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Auto Drivers in Fleecing Mode Again

Though the auto rickshaw drivers in the city agreed to ply on the revised meter fare after their demands were met by the government, some “rogue” drivers have done a volte face and continue to fleece passengers with exorbitant rates. City Express finds out more.

Published: 21st February 2014 07:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st February 2014 07:47 AM   |  A+A-

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Commuters in the city are facing a tough time with auto drivers refusing to follow the revised rates and charging exorbitant rates for small distances. Following the demands of auto drivers’ union last week, the government had revised and hiked the auto fares in the city. However, the move has failed to bring respite to the passengers who have to shell out a big amount even for five or ten kms as the auto drivers refuse to ply by the metre.

The minimum fare for auto-rickshaws in the city was hiked from `16 to `20, and the fare for every subsequent kilometre from `9 to `11. All digital metres were to be recalibrated in the next three months but unfortunately the process for the installation of new metres hasn’t started which is giving passengers a lot of trouble as they continue to be fleeced by the drivers.

Moreover, the agreed tariff charts with existing and revised fares are not to be seen anywhere. Clarifying the situation, Md Amanullah Khan, senior auto drivers’ union leader said, “Recent political developments have come in the way.

Metres have to be recalibrated but Transport commissioner who has to convene a meeting with the weights and measurements department has been transferred.” Officials say that those auto drivers who don’t follow the revised charts are punishable by law. “Drivers have to use the revised tariff charts and its not utilisation is also an offence. We will take strict actions,” said Hyderabad Joint Transport Commissioner, T Raghunath.

He also added that the meeting of Transport department officials with Weights and Measurements department and companies involved in recalibration would meet soon. Over 1.2 lakh autos ply in the twin cities and recalibration of metres costs each driver more than `300.

Although a circular with the new tariff card was supposed to be issued by the transport commissioner in the first week of February, the Auto Drivers’ Union JAC claim it is not so. “We have issued a temporary tariff chart as government failed to do so. If autodrivers are not following these, one should boycott the auto,” says Khan who welcomes complaints against drivers. 

Meanwhile those who depend on auto rickshaws to get around are turning towards other alternatives and think it is time to boycott autos. “One auto I availed from Lower Tank Bund to Banjara Hills had a tampered metre. I calculated the amount by the revised rates and it came up to less than what the metre shows,” fumes PR professional Ritu Singh, adding “I will switch to booking the new Genie cab which will cost me hardly `30 extra but atleast I can actually travel in an air conditoned car in the coming summer.”

Another regular passenger in autos, Anushree Raj, rued, “One of them even said that he hasn’t gotten his metre changed as he insisted that these rates won’t even last for a year and it will be a waste of my time and money.”

Admitting that auto drivers behaviour has been a cause of concern, Md Amanullah Khan said, “We certainly fight for the rights of auto drivers but we cannot tolerate this attitude of theirs towards passengers. If we get complaints against any driver, we are going to consider him as anti-social and ask him to give up the job.”

However, according to him, the root cause of the arrogant attitude of auto drivers was the incompetence of authorities. “The RTA and police are not bothered. They collect bribes and harass drivers. They should try counselling them,” he added.

Auto fares were last revised in August 2012 from `14 to `16 and from `8 to `9 for every subsequent kilometre travelled. Meanwhile, Telangana Auto Drivers JAC, who had planned auto drivers’ courtesy with passenger week between February 21 and 28 has postponed the programme.

In the meantime those who wish to bring errant auto driver to book can contact Md Amanullah Khan on his mobile number 93923 13972.

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