The city’s cabbies will not keep their vehicles off the streets on Tuesday as a show of support for Anna Hazare and his anti-corruption campaign, as planned in July.
Instead, the Mumbai Taximen’s Union has decided to use the anti-corruption movement to its own advantage: Cabbies have decided to complain about how the harassment they face by traffic cops near signals and outside railway stations, who demand bribes from them.
The union, which has around 36,000 taxis under its umbrella, claims taximen spend close to Rs 15 lakh every week on bribes.
“We want to end this practice of corruption. We will meet traffic department officials in the coming days,” said AL Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
Often, taxi drivers also have to pay off squads from the Regional Transport Office. “We would not have been complaining if the driver is at fault. But that is not the case every time,” said Quadros.
The union plans to identify the spots from where the most amount of bribe is collected and the traffic cops who ask for it on the basis of drivers’ complaints.
It will then submit the details to the traffic police department. “Colaba and Churchgate see a lot of complaints,” said a member of the union, requesting anonymity.
Traffic policemen, however, claim cabbies are upset as they have been cracking down on drivers who refuse fares for a week now; around 1,000 taxi and auto drivers have been booked so far.
“This drive is being carried out at railway stations and airports and drivers are being fined. We haven’t received an intimation from the taxi union about a meeting, but we will try to address their problems,” said Vivek Phansalkar, joint commissioner of police (traffic).