Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, August 9: Most public transport users in Dimapur will be familiar with the frustrating experience one often face when commuting within the town: drivers of auto rickshaws who ask for more than what it prescribed. They would charge double and sometimes even triple the fares than what the authorities have authorised.
This has become an ordeal to many in Dimapur owing to poor roads, and stubborn driverson the other hand. With a population of more than 1, 22,000 people the commercial hub lacks a properly regulated public transport system.
As public anger and dislike against auto-rickshaw drivers slowly grows, becoming severe overtime due to the overcharging even after the district administration had revised the rates, daily public transport users have one statement: It is “high time” that the administration enforces the use of fare meters on the three wheelers because overcharging has become unchecked and rampant.
“Autorickshaw drivers charge illogically, leaving daily commuters like us feeling cheated,” a 28 year old music teacher said.
Speaking to Eastern Mirror, the joint secretary of the Dimapur District Autorickshaw Driver’s Union (DDADU) said that any person having any grievance due to ‘overcharging’ may lodge a complaint with the head office of the DDADU, located at Super Market.
“Once the complaint is made by the individual against the auto driver, we check the autorickshaw registration and we call them to the office after which we let them off with a warning,” said Renthungo Tsopoe, the joint secretary of DDADU. But that is all.
The Motor Vehicle Act under Section R 21 (23) of CMV Rules r/w S.177 of MV Act states a fine of INR 100 for the first offence and INR 300 for second or subsequent offences against offenders for overcharging.
In this regard, Tsopoe was asked why no strict action was being taken by the union. Tsopoe replied that such penalization was not being implemented and that the MV Act had not been in use in regard to ‘overcharging’ by auto rickshaws in Dimapur.
“We get at least one complaint of overcharging in two to three days,” acknowledged Tsopoe.
While it is supposed to be the most convenient and reliable mode of transportation, many citizens of Dimapur has also expressed angst over not just the overcharging but also the overcrowding of three wheelers when it is not on hire basis.
The Regional Transport Authority (RTA) in 2017 directed drivers of auto rickshaws to accommodate passengers “as per the seating capacity, and accommodating passenger beside the driver is strictly prohibited.”
“Autorickshaw drivers over crowd their vehicle with more passengers than allowed and while the roads here in Dimapur are not good, the lives of the commuters are put at risk due to the over speeding on such roads,” a government school teacher said.
According to news reports in 2017, the district administration stated that “the rates will be revised as and when felt necessary by the authority and not at the convenience and terms of the union; the usual practice of the union to force its way is being viewed seriously by the district authorities.”
“No union or association has the right to cause irreparable inconvenience to public to get to its claims,” stated a press release from the then deputy commissioner of Dimapur in September 2017.
The DDADU was directed to strictly abide with the rules and regulations issued by the competent authority from time to time.
They were also directed to adhere to the autorickshaw fares as revised by the RTA dated 19th August 2017.
When contacted, the additional deputy commissioner of Police, Dimapur (traffic) informed that any public grievance that one may face in regard to complaints of overcharging fares, they can go to any police assistant booth or approach any personnel’s.
The RTA of Dimapur had also launched an app in 2017 for mobile phone users where one can check the rate of autorickshaw rides from the starting point to the destination in Dimapur which most autorickshaw drivers refuse to abide by.