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Updated: May 6, 2014 13:45 IST

Autorickshaw drivers call the shots

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Auto drivers who operate from near the railway stations refuse to be available at the prepaid stands

Are our police personnel afraid of autorickshaw drivers, particularly those who operate from near the Central railway station here?

The question arises when one looks at the manner in which the autorickshaw drivers there have a free run, fleecing passengers at their will, ignoring the fact that there is a prepaid auto stand inside the station premises.

This, despite the fact that unions representing the auto drivers had agreed to the tariffs fixed for the prepaid service, and the autos are supposed to be available for passengers approaching the prepaid stand.

However, the ground reality here, and at the Pettah railway station, is that auto drivers decide the tariffs, and refuse to be available at the prepaid stands, indirectly forcing passengers out on to the streets where it is a free-for-all.

There have been repeated media reports on the situation and umpteen number of complaints from the public. Still, the police remain a mute spectator to the blatant abuse of a system they themselves initiated.

In the absence of an automated signal at the Pettah junction, traffic enforcers find it extremely difficult to regulate the flow of vehicle movement. The traffic police regulate the traffic manually at the junction during peak hours. Commuters say chaos prevails when the traffic police are not present during non-peak hours. Being a busy junction, the enforcers find it difficult to manage traffic even during the peak hours, they say. Confusion prevails during morning and evening hours when signals shown by the enforcers are not clearly recognised, they say. The traffic policemen feel it is high time an automated signal system is installed at the junction.

If all other noises fell silent, you would hear a collective sigh of relief from motorists escaping from either end of the narrow Ambujavilasam Road. Connecting the General Post Office junction at Pulimoodu and the Upplamoodu bridge near Vanchiyoor, this long bottleneck of a route has remained so for years, while the number of cars passing through is growing exponentially.

To traverse this perilous route, people need to summon every driving skill they have. To make matters worse, the road branches off in the middle. There is no traffic light or warden to man this junction, often leading to traffic jams even when it is not rush hour. Pedestrians face an even more nightmarish situation with drainage slabs lined haphazardly in places or occupied by parked cars.

(Contribution by Dennis Marcus Mathew, Rajesh B. Nair and Kaavya Pradeep Kumar)

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