Peeved by the transport department’s decision to extend the deadline for recalibration of meters by two days, autorickshaw unions have sought another month to complete the process.
Explaining the rationale behind their demand, some autorickshaw unions staged a protest in Chepauk on Wednesday morning.
The deadline for recalibration of meters ended on October 15, but, according to meter mechanics, only 45,000 of the 70,000 autorickshaw drivers in the city have had their meters recalibrated and got the mechanics’ seals affixed on them.
Out of this, only 25,000 have meters that bear the seals of both the Regional Transport Offices and the mechanics. “A meter is considered valid only if it is sealed by both,” said a senior regional transport officer.
Thanks to these numbers , the transport department saw it fit to give a two-day extension.
“Some RTOs were not working on Wednesday. Some drivers had gone to the Red Hills RTO, but the counter was closed. We had filed a case in the Madras High Court early this month seeking an extension of time. We are waiting for the order on October 21. Only after this can we decide what to do,” said J. Seshasayanam, general secretary of the Madras Metro Auto Drivers Association.
S. Balasubramanian, general secretary, Chennai Auto and Taxi Drivers Union, said unless a month’s extension is given, it would be impossible for the drivers to recalibrate the meters.
“Only 25,000 autorickshaws have completed the process. We need time as there are only 39 meter mechanics, most of whom are found in Chintradripet, Parry’s, Egmore and T. Nagar. They get over 200 meters for servicing every day and they also face shortage of manpower,” he said.
He also cited shortage of meters as a reason. “Many of the companies have stopped supply, hoping the government will provide GPS meters in the next few months,” said Balasubramanian.
Meanwhile, senior transport department officials expressed ignorance about the course of action to be taken after the extended deadline is over. “We are waiting for the government’s decision,” said an official.