Monopoly under threat, auto drivers stop cabs at Rly Station

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Sep 2017 09:09:26


Alka Panse-Tiwari,

Innovations are in thing now and narrowed the physical boundaries. In the Transportation sector one is seeing that changes are causing a lot of disruption on the ground, often causing upheaval in the established sector. Take for instance after introduction of Radio Cab service it has established itself as a major player. But it has hit the interest of autorickshaws, the traditional way of travel in city, and one is aghast to see that the service itself cannot operate from Nagpur Railway Station, the most important junction point.

Now that Nagpur is undergoing makeover into Smart City, one is unable to fathom that the innovation in transport sector is not welcome at Nagpur Railway Station. With nearly a lakh footfall daily at station, it is a fact that radio cabs are not welcome at station campus due to threats of autorickshaw plyers. But more shocking is the silence on part of public authorities in watching the whole drama from sidelines, as if they are not bothered with the inconvenience caused to the travellers and general public.

Many incidents have taken place in past wherein cabs plying to Nagpur Railway Station have came under attack. Complaints were filed, autorickshaw drivers booked and yet the situation on ground remains unchanged. Auto drivers here are acting as hooligans, they don’t allow the cab drivers to pick-up the passengers from the station as it directly affects their business.

At times a few radio cab driver who dared to move inside the campus of railway station have been at receiving end of organised hooliganism on part of autorickshaw plyers. Window panes of such cabs were broken with impunity even as the deployed police personnel watched in helplessness. Interestingly, though such incidents have taken place hundreds of times but so far no action has been taken.
The Hitavada contacted every senior officer concerned in the matter, however none of the official gave the satisfactory answer that will bring an end to this teething problem.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic Control Branch, Nagpur City Police, Ravindrasingh Pardesi claims that he haven’t received a single complaint in the case. “I will immediately take an action if any among the drivers files a report with me,” he said.

But to acquaint himself with situation after being informed about the problem, DCP Pardesi took a round at the Nagpur railway station and surveyed the area. He has now ordered his staff to take appropriate action in case there is any trouble on part of autorickshaw drivers to plying of cabs. The cab services have started in the city from past two years. For sure, it has reached almost every corner of the city and have gained maximum likes by the citizens, but most important is it cannot reach the much needed and crowded place, Central Railway station.

The cab drivers cannot have the pick-up facility from Nagpur central railway station . The reason that the auto drivers from different unions do not allow them not only to enter the central railway station gate but also to park their vehicles nearby. The poor driver have to park their vehicles near State Bank of India on the main road, on Kingsway, and have to walk till the gate to reach to their customers.

“The auto drivers act as hooligans at the station. They abuse us and even try to damage the vehicle. We can’t afford the damage worth thousands for a couple of customers,” said Ramesh Dubey, a cab driver.

“We are not even allowed to drive our vehicle near the railway station gate. Passengers have to carry their luggage till SBI office. This sometimes is very annoying for emergency customers,” said other cab driver, Piyush Raut.
Central Railway PRO, Praveen Patil claimed that its the duty of Government Railway Police (GRP) to keep an eye on such cases. We are working to make an open space for parking of private vehicles. Most probably, private vehicles will be parked in the East side of the gate,” he said.

The auto drivers from different unions had carried out many agitation and protests against the so called illegal’ cab services in the city. Inspite of all the efforts, Nagpurians have welcomed the private radio cab services in the city. Say it for many reasons, which include easy ‘pick-up and drop’ facility and the most important very cheap fares in an air conditioned car.

The cab services have reached almost every corner of the city and even at the outskirts. Besides making a good business in the city, it has given employment to thousands of people in the city. Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Water Resources and Ganga, Nitin Gadkari has welcomed the cab services and had appreciated for employing thousands in it. At his initiative the city saw launch of electric cab services, the first in India, as part of initiative to protect environment.
The Hitavada contacted newly joined, PI Vasudeo Dabre at GRP and he replied, “ He will have to see the old register to check how many such incidents have taken place in the past.” He assured to take action if anybody report the matter to him.

Auto drivers demand level playing field Vilas Bhalekar, President of Vidarbha Auto Rickshaw Chalak Federation, defended the action against the radio cabs at Nagpur Railway Station, claiming that it is the Government which is at fault. Per se we are not opposed to cab services nor do we fear competition, but atleast there should be level playing field for all players. He pointed out that many of the cab drivers are not having proper permit to drive passengers. Ola, Uber are all private companies and as per current rules taxi permits are not granted to them and yet radio cab services are functioning right under the nose of authorities.

Whereas all auto drivers follow each and every rule imposed by Regional Transport Office (RTO) and the Government as well. Secondly, we have appealed the RTO to start fares as per the metre for autorickshaws but no is helping us, said Bhalekar. Under such conditions if we legally oppose plying of cabs from railway station that what is our fault, he asked?