Thiruvananthapuram

Auto drivers a harried lot

“It looks like petrol prices will touch ₹100,” says Sainudeen of Ambalathara. Sainudeen has been driving autorickshaws for 32 years and fondly recalls the times when petrol prices were ₹12 a litre and the minimum fare, ₹2.

“Diesel is priced at ₹78. Petrol too is expensive. The hartal against the fuel price hike has been ineffective. Now that the fuel prices are decided by the oil marketing companies, they will not come down,” he says.

Autorickshaw drivers say they are have been hit hard by the fuel price hike. Prices have been going up by a few paise over the months. While this may go unnoticed by the well-off, for them it has been tough. “Even if we meet daily expenses, what about vehicle maintenance and insurance?” Sainudeen asks.

Poor mileage

Natarajan of Vilappilsala says the mileage for petrol autorickshaws in the city is not good. “We may fill 4 or 5 litres of petrol. In many places we don’t get return charges or can’t ask for them. What we make is just enough to get by,” he says.

Minimum charges were to be hiked, but it is unlikely now in the wake of the floods, he says. “The vehicle owner has to be paid ₹250 a day. Even if we save something one week, it is wiped out soon for repaying loans or buying medicines,” he says.

The saving grace is people who do not insist that the exact balance be returned. “There are people who understand that the fuel prices are going up,” says Jayachandran who parks his autorickshaw at the Pappanamcode stand.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 1:17:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/auto-drivers-a-harried-lot/article24957579.ece

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