CHENNAI: At a time when autorickshaws either stayed off the streets or fleeced people, a group of auto drivers from north Chennai decided to take a road less travelled - these men came together to ferry stranded people for free throughout the day on Saturday. As many as 70 share auto drivers at the Ape auto rickshaw stand in Madhavaram pooled in their own money for diesel and helped over 4,000 stranded people to travel to their destination on the rainy day through flooded roads.
“Everyday, hundreds of people, mostly daily wage labourers, go from Madhavaram to Moolakadai junction from where they head to other parts of the city for work. We thought that was not the day to charge them,” said K Vijaykumar, a 29-year-old driver from the stand.
These men were also open to free service for medical emergencies. “We decided to take people to any hospital in the city in case of medical emergencies. When the government itself was offering free bus service understanding the hardship of the public, we thought why can’t we provide free service one day,” commented E Manikandan, another driver, non-chalantly.
Their efforts brought in praises and appreciations from all around, which they described as memorable moments in their life. “We understood the difficulty of the people who were stranded. Most of the drivers’ houses in Madhavaram, too, were submerged in water,” said his compatriot, SSS Suresh.
It was not just the drivers, even their owners were open to the idea. J Janardhanan, a 60-year-old, who drives an auto on hire purchase, said: “My owner waived a day’s rent. So I offered the service.”