Who will bell the autorickshaws that ply in the city flouting norms? The question had always given headaches to administrators. However, casting all worries aside, the autorickshaws in Kochi, for the first time in the last few years, have started operating fair and square. The passengers are now paying the meter charge.
Many of them said the attitude of the autorickshaw drivers have changed drastically. “Earlier, they were rude and arrogant. Now they are polite and no more squeezing money out of us,” said Antony V T, a student at Kaloor.
Lakshmi Gopinath, a house wife from Kaloor, said the one time she took an autorickshaw post the strike, she was charged only the meter reading.
“They charged Rs 30 as per the meter from NAP Junction to the Centre Square Mall and Rs 50 from the mall to my home at Azad Road, Kaloor,” she said. Lakshmi too felt that the drivers have mellowed down after the strike. But, Vineetha Satyaraj, a school teacher, said that she had to pay Rs 8 more than the amount in the meter.
Meanwhile, RTO B J Antony reiterated that the administration would leave no stones unturned to put a rein on autorickshaws that had been charging exorbitant amount.
“The rules and regulations have been clearly stated. Their demand to ply autos without meters cannot be justified under any circumstance,” he said.
The official said the argument put forth by the protestors during the strike was that the Kozhikode Corporation authorities have carried out certain compromises within the city limits. “But we are not aware of any such thing. Hence, we have asked them to produce documents supplementing their argument so that we can discuss the matter,” he said. The RTO has made it clear that the administration will cancel the permit of the autorickshaws that violate rules. “There are over 1,000 autorickshaws that are in queue demanding fresh permits. It is not hard to transfer those permits,” he said.
However, City Permit Auto Drivers Association has come forward saying it was the trade unions that called a strike unnecessarily causing hardships to the public.
“The MVD has started issuing permits. It was sure and certain that illegal autos would have to leave the city once the issuance of permits are over. The strike was to prevent such a move,” said Martin, secretary, City Permit Auto Drivers Association.