The helplines established to bring to book autorickshaw drivers who violate the new fare system, have received a lukewarm response.
Only six persons called in to lodge complaints, and all of them stopped short of revealing their identities. Not only that, the complaints lacked accuracy and could not be acted upon.
“Until Tuesday afternoon, we received just six calls. None of the callers provided the registration numbers of the autos they travelled in. Without these particulars, a complaint does not mean anything,” an official manning one of the helplines said.
Autorickshaw drivers in the city are expected to comply with the new tariff — a minimum of Rs. 25 for the first 1.8 km and Rs. 12 for every subsequent km — that came into effect on Sunday.
Passengers have been asked to report drivers who fail to do so. However, their reluctance to part with information on errant drivers may be due to safety concerns, said a transport department official.
“We will not disclose the complainant’s name or number. Our officials will verify the complaint and take action if the driver is found flouting the revised fares,” the official said.
The department will also rope in officers from other districts to strengthen enforcement. “Autorickshaw drivers have been given time until September 15 to collect the tariff cards, and by October 15, they will have to recalibrate their meters. But the new fares are already in effect, and commuters can demand to be charged accordingly,” said the official.
The Chennai traffic police are also attempting to create awareness on the new fares among autorickshaw drivers. “We are sensitising the drivers and commuters too. We will paste stickers with the revised fares in autorickshaws and also distribute pamphlets,” said a senior traffic police officer.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Association of India (CAI) has come forward to help commuters lodge complaints against errant autorickshaw drivers. R. Desikan, founder trustee of CAI, said passengers could call 044-66334346 for help.
“They can record their grievances but their identities will not be revealed. Their complaints will be sent to the transport department for action,” said Mr. Desikan. He said it would take time for commuters to shed their inhibitions and lodge complaints against auto drivers.
“The transport department and the traffic police too should enforce the norms strictly. For years, the public has been paying exorbitant fares,” said Mr. Desikan.