Mumbai: Refusal to ply (RTP) by taxi drivers has become a major problem in the city with thousands of citizens being left to fend for themselves. “I feel like a beggar asking one cabbie after another to take me to Flora Fountain from CST daily,” said a citizen Jyothi Kumar. But, she doesn’t know that cab drivers can’t refuse to ferry a passenger without a valid reason and that passengers can register a complaint against the driver concerned. However, most prefer to wait and find another cab to take them to their destination, but it is not good enough.
The Free Press Journal has decided to help commuters by launching a campaign against RTP. If a driver refuses to go, tell politely that he is not supposed to refuse, and if they still don’t take you to your desired destination then you need to call the helpline of Mumbai central regional transport office 9076201010 or you can also click a photograph of the taxi with vehicle number and mail to the [email protected]
On day one of the FPJ campaign on Monday, this correspondent spent more than six hours near the Churchgate railway station and asked 96 taxi drivers whether they will take him to different destinations like Nariman Point, Mantralaya and CST. As many as 74 drivers curtly said no, 16 readily agreed while the rest cooked up excuses for not plying like that they wanted to refuel or were heading for breakfast. In the coming days, this newspaper will be highlighting this issue faced by people at various prominent spots of south Mumbai.
Rajiv Garg, 34, from Andheri who wanted to go to Mantralaya spent more than 15 minutes for a taxi at Churchgate on Monday since none of the cabbies were willing to ply. In frustration, he boarded a BEST bus. A senior official of the Western Railway said, “Last week, at around 6pm my car driver was not available, I asked more than half-a-dozen taxi drivers at Churchgate to take me to my home at Badhwar Park, near Cuffe Parade, but in vain. Finally, I decided to walk up to Badhwar Park.”
Many citizens – with whom The FPJ spoke – observed that the RTP was not a new problem. But, the number of refusals have increased alarmingly. “We have already formed a special squad, which is not only penalising errant drivers but also counselling them,” said an official of state transport department, adding that in the last 4 months 700 RTP cases were registered against taxi drivers and a fine of Rs1.48 lakh was collected from them.
Asked about the huge number of refusals, the official said, “We investigate each and every case reported by passengers. It seems most of the passengers don’t come forward with complaints. If a driver refuses they start looking for another one.” He appealed to harassed Mumbaikars to report each and every case of the RTP.