The transport department appears to be pretty slack when it comes to the issue of protecting people in a city that has been ranked second in the country for crimes against women. A proposal by the auto union to install GPS systems in autos is gathering dust at the department while the officials claim they are “on it”.
“There are over 90,000 auto rickshwas in the city. The GPS tracking systems will be very important for passengers’ safety. If GPS is installed, autos can be tracked, robberies can be traced and passenger grievances can be addressed,” said M Manjunath, president Adarsha Auto and Taxi Union.
The transport department is also unclear on the funding issue. According to Manjunath, these devices cost around `15,000. “The government didn’t give us enough subsidy to revamp the old autos three years ago. They gave us only `15,000 instead of `30,000. Now, for the GPS gadgets, we have asked for `15,000, but based on our previous experience, I do not know how much we will actually receive,” he said.
Manjunath further said there is no system in place to track autos, so if the government takes some measures it will not only ensure the safety of passengers but also tourists. The union had proposed this measure three years back. New autos were acquired but the devices are yet to be installed.
When City Express contacted the deputy Commissioner (Transport), Maruti Sambrani, he said, “We are looking into the matter. We will soon have a meeting with the higher-ups and discuss the same. Nothing has been finalised yet. We have to see if this is feasible or not as the auto driver might have to pay extra money every month for the GPS facility.”
For Bangaloreans, this could be a positive move. “I travel by auto everyday, and especially at night I feel unsafe. With the GPS devices installed in the vehicles, our lives will become easier, “ said S Shikha, a resident of Kormangala.
“I leave late from work almost every day. There have been times when the auto driver slows down in the dark or reeks of alcohol. At times I feel really scared. If these GPS devices are installed, women of this city will feel safe and will be able to travel at night without any fear,” said Faraza, a resident of Wilson Garden.
There are scores of unreported incidents of molestation and eve-teasing in the city. There are also stories across the country of tourists and travellers being robbed by auto rickshaw drivers. The GPS tracking system could help in solving the crimes by tracking such errant auto drivers.