BENGALURU: The city’s roads, while devoid of traffic at night, are definitely not a boon for Bengaluru's cabbies, who say they have to deal with nightmares of another kind. Drunk motorists, robbers and irate passengers, they say, are threatening to harm them. With more taxi drivers being forced to work long hours because of dropping earnings, driving in the night has become inevitable, yet unsafe, the drivers complained.
Earlier this month, a 29-year-old cab driver was stabbed by a gang of five men on a flyover near Ganganagar when he did not give way to the accused immediately. In August this year, another cab driver who got into an argument with another group of men at a bar in the night was also stabbed. While Suneel, stabbed on the flyover, managed to survive, the other cab driver Chandra, was not so lucky.
City Express spoke to a few drivers about their greatest worry while ferrying passengers during the night hours. “My phone which I use to get bookings, was robbed once when I was sleeping in the car. I had left the window open just a little bit and someone managed to reach in and take the phone away. Almost all cab drivers will have a night time story to tell,” said 31-year-old Hanumantha, a resident of Kacharkanahalli who drives for a taxi aggregator.
For others, it is unruly passengers. “I once had to pick up five people, all of whom were drunk. They got into an argument about which song they wanted to hear and then proceeded to take my phone, connected to the car's audio and pass it around. When I objected and asked them to use their own phone, one guy put his hand on my shoulder and said I should adjust as everyone was drunk. It was scary because situations like these turn bad in an instant. I just let it be, laughed it off and dropped them,” said Noor Mohammed, a resident of RT Nagar.
Some drivers choose to stay online via phone with their friends in order to get a sense of security. “I use headphones and always inform my roommate, who also drives at night of my whereabouts. We meet up for tea sometime in the middle and then go back to the job. Atleast that way if I'm in trouble, he will know instantly,” said Gangaraju, a 25-year-old from Bidar, who recently started driving in the city.
At nights, the sighting of a police patrol van, usually viewed as a hindrance during the day, turns into a welcome sight. “If there are no passengers and I have to wait, I always park next to a police station or any commercial place that is open. Sometimes, I park next to houses that have their lights on in the hope that there will be some help if I land in trouble,” said Sameer, who lives in Maruthi Seva Nagar.