Taxi and maxi cab owners fear loss of business
Even as the district administrations across the State have commenced impounding of government vehicles for election duty, maxi cab and taxi owners whose vehicles too are set to be requisitioned soon are fearing loss of tourist business during the summer holiday apart from their contracts.
In Bangalore Urban district, the process has started and the regional transport authorities impounded several cars belonging to Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Excise Department and other departments on Wednesday and Thursday.
Bangalore Urban Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj told The Hindu that the district administration is yet to finalise the number of vehicles required.
“As and when the requirement arises, we intimate it to the regional transport officers who impound vehicles and hand them over to us,” he said.
Regional Transport Officer, Bangalore Central, K.T. Halaswamy, said that Transport Department officials issue requisition letters to the departments from which the vehicle is sought.
If the vehicle is not handed over at the stipulated time, the officials would physically take possession wherever it is, be in the office or on the road, he said. RTOs in Bangalore are supposed to procure vehicles for 28 Assembly constituencies in Bangalore Urban and four segments in Bangalore Rural, he said.
With single phase polling and with the number of officials on election duty in the nature of micro observers and sectoral magistrates increasing, vehicles required this time would be more compared to the 2008 general elections, according to Bhairava Siddaramaiah, president of Karnataka Maxi Cab and Motor Cab Owners Association.
Mr. Siddaramaiah said that of the 1.5 lakh maxi and motor taxis in the State, about 10,000 vehicles are lying idle because of lack of drivers. “The RTOs are yet to intimate us about the requirement; but the requisition is bound to happen in the days to come,” he said.
Taxi owners are concerned over this on many counts. About 11,000 vehicles are contracted with IT and BT companies and owners are contractually bound to provide the promised service.
With shortage of drivers, whoever available is unwilling to perform duty continuously for 10 to 15 days even as they are not provided proper rest and other facilities.
Though the Election Commission pays the hire charges, payment takes longer putting owners into hardship, Mr. Siddaramaiah said. This is also peak season for taxis.
He said that providing cars might not be a big problem for operators; but they would find it difficult to provide buses and maxi cabs.
To minimise hardship to taxi owners, the election commission may utilise school buses as educational institutions are closed during the summer holidays, Mr. Siddaramaiah suggested.
Responding to this, Mr. Halaswamy said that taxi owners are legally bound to provide vehicles for election duty.
“Their services are not utilised for free and the commission pays attractive hire charges,” he said.
“Taxis would be requisitioned only when government vehicles are found insufficient and we are still in the process of impounding government vehicles,” the officer added.