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Taxi unions in Mumbai object to installing vehicle tracking system and panic buttons; threaten stir

Installation cost — at Rs12,000 a cab — too much of a financial burden, say unions, demand that government bear expense if it is mandatory

mumbai Updated: Apr 04, 2018 11:56 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustan Times
Taxi unions,vehicle tracking system,panic buttons
Kaali-peeli taxi unions have threatened an agitation, if the government attempts to force it on them. (HT File Photo)

Taxi unions that represent drivers of black-and-yellow cabs have strongly opposed the transport ministry’s move to make it mandatory for all taxis to have a Vehicle Tracking System (VTS) and panic buttons. They have threatened an agitation, if the government attempts to force it on them.

In a letter to union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, the Mumbai Taximens Union has objected to the plan and claimed that there is no need to install VTS and panic buttons in black-and-yellow cabs as commuters are safe using those services.

The union sent the letter after it saw a news report in the April 3 edition of Hindustan Times about the implementation of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway’s (MORTH) notification, dated November 28, 2016, which makes the installation of VTS and panic buttons in all public service vehicles mandatory from April 1.

“The taxi trade in Mumbai has completed 110 years, and not a single incident of rape or molestation has been reported by women in the city who travel in metered taxis,” the letter said.

The union warned that if implementation of the regulation would put a huge financial burden on taxi owners, which it will not permit. “For installing this system, the government should use the Nirbhaya Fund, which is lying idle,” said AL Quadros, leader of Mumbai Taximens Union. The government should exempt black-and-yellow cabs from this rule, he added.

Another taxi union, Swabhiman Taxi Rickshaw Union, has also written to the Maharashtra transport commissioner welcoming the move to make journeys safer for commuters, but demanding that the government bear the expense of installing VTS and panic buttons, which will cost around Rs12,000 a taxi.

“If the government tries to burden taxi drivers, we will be forced to launch an agitation,” said KK Tiwari, leader of Swabhiman Taxi Rickshaw Union.

Meanwhile, private bus operators in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra have called a meeting on April 6 to determine their future course of action in the wake of the ministry’s notification. The notification includes buses, too.

First Published: Apr 04, 2018 11:56 IST