This time around, the district administration seems to be in a strict mood to address the long-pending issues related to autorickshaws and the treatment meted to the passengers.
In a strict directive issued to the subordinate officers, deputy transport commissioner P J Sainudhin and Road Transport Officer (RTO) B J Antony have asked them to show zero tolerance to the reported illegal practices by a section of auto drivers.
The officials made it clear that passengers can travel 1.25 km paying a minimum charge of Rs 15. They have also published a fare list noting the exact amount of money to be paid for extra kilometres along with the contact numbers of officials for the benefit of the public.
RTO B J Antony that the Motor Vehicles Department will strictly implement the rule. “A major handicap before us is that people are not willing to officially complain to the Motor Vehicles Department against auto drivers who fleece passengers. During the last six months, I have received only three formal complaints. In complaints regarding non-usage of fare meter, the maximum fine that police can issue is just Rs 100. In the case of collecting excess amount, the maximum fine police can charge is Rs 1,000,” he said.
The RTO said the authorities will act very strict in complaints. “We have provisions for stringent punishment, including cancellation of driving licence and permit,” he said and added that the department recently took action against a auto driver who threatened two students demanding exorbitant rates.
According to RTO B J Antony, a recent investigation proved that out of the 4,000 autorickshaws which have permit in the city, only 1,385 conduct service. “This means that around 2,600 autos which have city permit have vanished. This gap is filled by autos which comes from suburban and rural areas. The drivers of these are unaware of the city. In a remarkable number of cases, such drivers were seen indulging in unethical behaviour since they are largely unaccountable,” he added.
Antony added that steps are being taken to issue new city permits and cancel the old ones in a phased manner. “The permits of missing autos will be cancelled,” he said.
“Due to severe shortage of staff in Legal Meteorology Department, calibration of fare meter is pending. The Regional Transport Authority, consisting of the District Collector, rural SP and deputy transport commissioner will soon meet in this regard. The Collector have suggested that extra staff can be deputed to finish the calibration work at the earliest,” he said.