Authorities’ drive to enforce meter fare rule to continue

Autorickshaws stayed off the road in the city on Thursday as part of the dawn-to-dusk strike by drivers’ unions against alleged harassment by the police. Most autorickshaw drivers took part in the strike with hardly any three-wheeler visible on the streets between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Drivers affiliated to the Autorickshaw Drivers’ Association (CITU) also took out a march to the City Police Commissioner’s office as part of the protest.

The march, which started from the High Court Junction, was stopped by the police near the Commissioner’s office. K.P. Selvan, district president, Autorickshaw Drivers’ Association, inaugurated the protest meeting held thereafter. M.P. Udayan, district committee member, presided.

The union leaders then handed over a memorandum to Deputy Police Commissioner V.M. Muhammed Rafeeque. The memorandum demanded immediate steps to fix city limits and end to harassment of autorickshaw operators with regard to the fare charged when operating beyond the corporation limits.

V.V. Praveen, State committee member of the association, alleged that the police stopped autorickshaws in the middle of trips and asked the passengers to pay only the fare shown in the metre.

“This is being done without inquiring about the destination, leading to tussles between the drivers and the passengers. For, autorickshaw drivers are permitted to charge meter fare plus half of it if the service is being operated beyond the city limits,” Mr. Praveen said.

He alleged police apathy in fixing the city limits as in Kozhikode and Thrissur districts where the limits had been fixed jointly by the police and the corporation in consultation with trade unions.

It would be a win-win situation for both operators and passengers as the meter fare alone would be charged for rides within the city limits. Mr. Rafeeque, however, said that drawing the city limits was the mandate of the civic body and the government and the police could not do anything about it.

The city police issued a communication that the minimum fare for autorickshaws within the corporation limits had been fixed at Rs.15 for 1.25 km and Rs.2 could be charged for the next 250 m and Rs.8 for every kilometre. Drivers can charge an additional 50 per cent fare between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

“These are rules fixed by government agencies and the police are enforcing them for the people’s convenience,” said Mr. Rafeeque. The police said the drive against erring autorickshaw drivers would continue in the coming days.

Police said that any person who is asked to pay more than the meter fare could send an SMS to the police with the registration number of the autorickshaw, place, date, and time of occurrence and action would be taken.

Traffic police circle inspectors can be contacted on 9497987099 (Traffic West), 9497987100 (Traffic East), 9497987102 (Traffic Tripunthura).

Traffic West Assistant Commissioner can be reached on 9497990067 and Assistant Commissioner Traffic East on 9497990068. People can also contact Deputy Commissioner of Police Rafeeque on 9497996986.

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