Auto rickshaw fare gets too rich for commuters in Dimapur

Auto rickshaw fare gets too rich for  commuters in Dimapur
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Dimapur, May 8: The working class in the private sector is fuming over the ridiculous auto rickshaw fare they are forced to cough up every single day to get to their workplace and back in Dimapur. But it is not just those working in private sector that is feeling the pinch, everyone who doesn’t own their means of transportation – a housewife, student, etc – is reeling under the unregulated auto fares charged by this only means of public transport within Dimapur town jurisdiction.
Taking an auto rickshaw today, the cheapest means of commuting in Dimapur town is increasingly becoming unaffordable for many. To top it off, the auto drivers are now even charging passengers for getting stuck in traffic jams!
Auto fares in Dimapur are fixed by the Regional Transport Authority Dimapur, and the last revision was done some years back when fuel prices were at an all time high. Since then, fuel prices have dropped drastically but commuters are getting no respite from the rising auto fares.
As per the last revision, the town trip rate was Rs 35. But since the very day the revision came into force, autos have been charging Rs 40 per town trip, with the excuse of not having Rs 5 change.
But this appears to be a pattern among public transport providers in Nagaland. For auto rickshaw and bus drivers, the fare is rounded to the next ten; and for taxi drivers to the next 50 or 100 as per the drivers’ discretion. The authorities fixing fare rate for public transport should be aware this while fixing the rates, and leave no room for the drivers to maneuver.
Auto drivers admits to charging more than the fixed rate from passengers, but lay blame for this on the district traffic authorities for restricting movement of auto-rickshaws in many parts of the town, forcing them to take longer routes to drop their passengers.
Caught in this tussle between auto drivers and traffic cops are the innocent commuters/passengers who are being fleeced of their hard earned money.
As the blame-game continues, Nagaland Page talked to several people to understand the problems faced by them and observed that the absence of proper mechanism has emboldened auto drivers to charge any amount from passengers.
“Either the district administration has no knowledge about the plights of the common people or they knowingly do not want to provoke the hardened unruly elements – the auto drivers. These auto drivers behave as if they are an authority unto themselves, and their diktats on the fares are evidently official,” said a school teacher.
Her voiced echoed with other teachers, students and the general public against auto drivers charging exorbitant fare.
Dimapur Traffic Police sets up checking points in some of the major junctions of the town such as Khermahal Point, Deluxe Point, City Tower, etc where there is no alternate escape route. Auto drivers without valid papers end up paying fines, but extract the same with interest from the passengers.
“Daily on an average 10 or 20 auto drivers gets trapped in police check points and ends up paying the fines. But 100s of auto drivers who stay updated on traffic check points manages to avoid these,” admits an auto driver who seems to knows the tricks of his trade. “If there is a check point, we often de-board passengers and escapes. There is no other way out.”
“Drivers charge their own rates, the district and police administration should take serious note of it. Commuters cough up even Rs 70-80 for town trips. One has to agree as per the dictum of the auto drivers. There is no other option left for the common people,” rued Viputo, a college student.
Speaking on conditions of anonymity, a young doctor practicing in a private hospital in Dimapur said, “The auto rickshaw union is either helpless or in league with few, who are running the auto rickshaw union as a thriving business, it’s a syndicate and left untamed. They are not accountable to anyone. More needs to be investigated, administration is least bothered about the plight of common people”.
He further lamented that auto drivers behave as “rowdies” and people are compelled to pay up double the fare.
Talking to Nagaland Page, the general secretary of Dimapur District Auto Drivers Union (DDADU), Inito Shohe disclosed that there are 4300 auto rickshaws registered under the union presently, but also admitted that there is thousands of unregistered auto plying in the town. “Dimapur is a large area and the union is unable to regulate the thousands of unregulated auto rickshaws at one go. We are also taking steps to regulate as such”.
On auto fare rates, he admitted, “It is the Government stipulated rate of Rs 35 for town trip, but many auto drivers charge Rs 40”.
When pointed out that it is not even Rs 40 but the auto drivers exorbitantly charges Rs 50 to 70 for town trip, he said “Distance also matters. If one boards an auto rickshaw from Dhobinala Junction and un-board at Sub-Jail point then obviously the fares will not be the same”.
On auto drivers charging more than Rs 40 per trip even while travelling within the town, he paused for a while and said, “Obviously we have received one or two complaints and we try to resolve it.” He assured that since the grievances of the public has been brought before the union; the union will sort it out at the earliest.
Inito also informed that for lodging complaints against any auto drivers who charges beyond the fixed rate, one can contact him at 9856383701 along with the registration number of the auto rickshaw. (Page News Service)