At a time when autorickshaw drivers are sceptical about plying with meters, a city watchman has decided to get behind the wheel of an autorickshaw.
Three weeks ago, R. Loganathan bought a second-hand autorickshaw and is a happy man today.
“It is a good time for those who want to earn a living in a honest way. The meter is here to stay. It will bring us more passengers,” says the 62-year-old who likes to be called Baba. “I am a fan of Sai Baba and Rajinikanth,” he says.
Before becoming a watchman, Loganathan was an autorickshaw driver for a few years in the 80s. “But it became difficult to sustain a living as the number of autorickshaws kept increasing and daily earnings became uncertain. I could not pay back the loan on my autorickshaw,” he says.
He sold off the vehicle and took up a job as a night watchman in a residential area. A few months back, Loganathan quit after doctors advised him against working in the night.
“My children then bought me this auto. I drive around for just six hours a day and am able to make at least Rs. 500, excluding fuel charges, every day. I am sure, with the meter on, I will be able to earn a decent living and pay the monthly dues of Rs. 5,000,” he says.
With the new meter and rate card, Loganathan says he does not find it difficult to get customers. But the State government must take some measures to ensure drivers are not harassed unnecessarily, he says.
“The government should crack down on those who own multiple autos and rent them out to poor drivers like me. Many of us are being forced to pay as much as Rs. 6,000 to get the vehicles transferred in our names,” says the resident of Nettukuppam.