KOCHI: The transportation troubles faced by passengers alighting at the Ernakulam South railway station will be over soon. For the Railways has implemented permit system at the autorickshaw prepaid counter at the station from Wednesday. Hari Krishnan, the Ernakulam area manager of Southern Railways, said the Railways decided to implement the system to keep in check the autorickshaw drivers' tendency to give the prepaid counter a wide berth and pick up passengers on huge fares. “It has also come to the Railways' notice the autorickshaw drivers were not allowing online taxis to conduct service from the railway station,” said Krishnan.
He said under the system, only the autorickshaws which were issued a permit will be allowed to pick up passengers from the station. “To get the permit, the autorickshaw drivers have to undergo police verification and produce insurance papers. This will ensure the safety of the passengers and also force the drivers to behave in a civilised manner. The system came into force at the Ernakulam North railway station last month,” Krishnan said.
The system also aims at helping Railways take strict action against erring drivers. “A Cart Licence Fee of `450 is being charged for two months,” he said. The system will be implemented at all railway stations soon, he said.The existing rate of the licence fee for a three-wheeler or an autorickshaw is `1,475 (including GST) for six months. “As of April 30, 106 applications were received, of which 80 owners remitted the fee. However, many autorickshaw drivers and owners are refusing to apply for the permit. They are trying to derail the process and are obstructing permit holders from conducting services.
The Railways had held meetings with various autorickshaw unions in the presence of the RTO officers and the traffic police on April 27 and May 5. But the unions did not budge. However, the Railways decided to give them more time,” he said. Till date, the Railways has issued 103 permits at the South railway station. All the autorickshaws, around 220, at North railway station have been issued permits.
“All autorickshaws that have permits and drop passengers at the railway stations are also allowed to pick up passengers. Till May 15, around 300 autorickshaws were operating from the South railway station. So if there has been any shortage of vehicles operating from the station, it has been artificially created,” Krishnan said.
10 union leaders arrested
The first day of the implementation of the permit system has met with resistance from autorickshaw unions. Around 6.15 pm on Wednesday, the police arrested and removed 10 autorickshaw union leaders who were forcing passengers to get down from autorickshaws plying with a permit. The District Collector has taken a strong stand against harassment of passengers by the autorickshaw unions.