Illegal autorickshaw stands to be removed

Only autorickshaws with city permit will be allowed to operate in Kochi. Steps would also be taken to prevent illegal autorickshaws stands from cropping up at busy and narrow junctions. These decisions were taken at a joint meeting of the Kochi Corporation, Motor Vehicles’ Department (MVD) and other stakeholders, convened here on Monday.

The meeting was held in the backdrop of incidents where passengers, including women were attacked by gangs led by autorickshaw drivers.

“We have also received complaints of drivers misbehaving with, and in some cases even molesting passengers. Most of the culprits are drivers of autorickshaws which do not have city permit. This is apart from the common complaint of autorickshaw drivers in Ernakulam district charging over double the fare from commuters. This often works out to the fare charged by air-conditioned taxi cars. There are autorickshaw drivers in the city who earn over Rs 1,000 as daily profit by fleecing passengers,” said an official who participated in the meeting.

Fresh permits will be issued after assessing the parking capacity of autorickshaw stands in different parts of the city.

Currently city permits are limited to 4,000, of which around 1,500 have either been surrendered or cancelled. This has to be filled, based on the relevant criteria. Autorickshaw stands will not be permitted at roads and junctions which are less than six metres wide, since different unions have illegally set up stands in many narrow and congested roads, choking traffic. They have also erected boards, in violation of norms. A decision on these will be taken following an inter-departmental meeting that would be held on July 5, said an MVD official.

Roads must have a minimum width of seven metres so that buses can travel in either direction. Pedestrians need at least a metre each on either side, to walk safely, he said.

Though it is the duty of Kochi Corporation to allot autorickshaw stands, this is seldom done. Thus, the civic agency is unable to collect the mandatory fee from each stand.

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