THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With fuel prices reaching new heights, transportation is becoming more expensive for daily commuters. Adding to the woes, people are forced to spend more on routine travels as auto drivers demand more fares for trips. According to auto rikshaw drivers, the minimum fare is inadequate to cover the distance and have demanded the state government to hike the minimum fares and per kilometre charge. There are around 65,000 to 70,000 autos in the district and around 20,000 has city permits.
District secretary of Auto Drivers Association (CITU) Jayamohan K said auto drivers are struggling as the minimum fare is inadequate to meet the fuel and other expenses. “We have demanded the state government to hike the minimum fare to Rs 30. Now every kilometre after the minimum fare cost around Rs 1.25 and that needs to be hiked to Rs 2. Probably, the government would assign a commission to fix the new fares soon. One litre of fuel and oil cost around Rs 150,” said Jayamohan. He said the pandemic has adversely affected autorickshaw drivers. “We are not getting commuters even after the unlocking. Once the schools reopen, we hope things will go back to normal,” he added.
Sarin P R, a resident of PTP Nagar, said autorickshaw rides cost more now. “I tried to hire an auto from Thampanoor and the driver charged me Rs 130 to drop me at PTP Nagar. They demand more money for their return trip if we hire them at night. There is absolutely no regulation on this. Pre-paid counters are a mere farce,” said Sarin.
Another commuter, Sasi Kumar said in the past five years the fuel expenses have increased more than 100 per cent. “My salary has increased only 10 per cent in the past five years but the fuel expenses have gone up by 100 per cent. I now spend Rs 225 on fuel every day to reach my workplace and earlier it used to cost half,” says Sasi Kumar, a Varkala native.
No respite amid price hike
Market experts say, the prices of essential commodities have shot up 40% to 100% in the past year alone due to owing to the repeated fuel price hikes. The cost of living has increased 3.17 times in a span of 20 years. According to the distributors, the prices of consumer goods have gone up heavily in the past year, while the country was battling a deadly pandemic