With deadline for recalibrated meters barely a day away, complaints continue
With the government-set deadline to recalibrate autorickshaw meters barely a day away, complaints are still pouring in from residents that several autorickshaws are plying without operating the meters, despite having new ones.
Transport department officials said they were aware of the many complaints from residents in various parts of the city. Since the formation of a joint committee nearly two months ago, the offices of the joint transport commissioner, south and north, have received 1,830 complaints regarding autorickshaw drivers demanding excess fares.
Passengers complain that fleecing is more rampant in the vicinity of shopping malls and the Chennai Central railway station.
“They bargain and refuse to turn on the meters. The drivers demand a minimum of Rs. 100 for a distance of three kilometres against the actual fare of approximately Rs. 40,” said L. Seshasayee, a commuter bargaining with a driver in front of a mall in Royapettah.
S. Amudha, who travels from Royapettah to Chintradripet every day, said on most occasions, autorickshaw drivers refused to operate the meters. “Once, a driver demanded Rs. 120 and when I confronted him, he cited the escalating fuel prices and drove away,” she said.
Explaining the process of handling a complaint, a senior transport department official said once they received a complaint with specific details such as registration number, it was forwarded to the Regional Transport Office (RTO) concerned for further action. The RTO then sends a notice to the driver/owner of vehicle, asking for an explanation.
Another official said after the deadline, a stringent drive would be conducted against those drivers refusing to operate the meters. At present, due to intervention from the unions, officials were unable to take action, he said.
In August, the State government announced a revised fare system for autorickshaws. The drivers are supposed to charge Rs. 25 for the first 1.8 kilometres and Rs. 12 for every additional kilometre. The deadline for recalibrating the meters was October 15 initially, but was extended by a month after autorickshaw unions protested, demanding more time.