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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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CIMA Gallary
Letters
‘I will not give in to their ways’

A major irritant: The report on taxi refusal highlights the trauma citizens face every day. This is a grave matter and should by no means be overlooked. The taxi drivers should be penalised. Let us not shrug it off as a minor irritant. Arindam Lodh, Dum Dum Park

Experience — and defiance — have taught me never to get on a taxi if its driver asks where I want to go. I simply take a step back as soon as the driver questioningly lifts his eyebrows, his hands on the wheel and foot on the accelerator, ready to speed away the moment he hears my destination.

My choice is restricted to the (few) cabbies who ask about your destination once you are seated. These drivers are also far more likely to return your change.

In the days before wisdom dawned, I would take any taxi and then struggle through the journey. It’s hard enough getting a taxi near my AJC Bose Road address.

Ever since the flyover construction has taken over most of the road, few taxis take that route. In the event that I do get one quickly, it is always about keeping an eye on the route to see that he doesn’t take the longest way to Central Avenue.

Needless to say, every day there is a vast difference in the meter reading. What should cost Rs 38 usually comes to anything between Rs 45 and Rs 50.

So, I insist on getting all my change back. Yes, even if it’s Rs 2.

When a driver once rudely refused to return change for Rs 100 saying he didn’t have any, I grabbed the note back and walked out, blinded with rage, determined to teach him a lesson by not paying.

It was only after crossing the road — wondering why he wasn’t screaming (or running) after me — that I realised that in my anger I had left my wallet on the seat.

To my horror, I watched as he smirked and sped away. The wallet had my ATM cards, house key, money and more. But I have not accepted defeat. Even if it means losing many more wallets, I will not give in to their ways.

Karo Christine Kumar

A regular menace

Apropos the report about a taxi driver misbehaving with a woman when she raised her concern over meter tampering, such incidents have become quite common on the city roads.

Every morning it is a struggle with luck as one steps out on the road. The cabbies are rude, unapologetic and ill-mannered. You get refused by 100 taxis and then one agrees, demanding an exorbitant fare without reason. Police sergeants on duty hardly help in such cases.

Thanks to Metro for highlighting this menace on behalf of the the citizens.

Saadia Sitwat

Kudos to Metro for the coverage on taxi refusal. It is a regular problem in the area around my office — the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road-Elliot Road crossing. Most taxi drivers refuse to take passengers towards Deshapriya Park in the afternoon without citing any reason. Once I fell down on the street as a taxi I had hailed sped away. The traffic cops are of little help, as all taxi drivers are members of one union or the other and have political protection.

It is the same with autos. They do not abide by traffic rules and obstruct roads according to their sweet will.

It seems only the chief minister can handle and help improve the situation with out appeasing the local dadas.

Indrajit Sarkar

The problem of taxi refusal has reached intolerable proportions in the city. I often face such refusal. Taxis are part of the public transport network, especially suitable for the elderly and children.

If cabbies continue to refuse passengers at this rate, the transport department should immediately do something to curb the menace. Why should taxis be such a menace? Why can’t the government address the issues plaguing the city’s public transport system with some positive outcome?

Cyrus S. Meherji

Lodging a complaint should be the first step when faced with taxi refusal. Kudos to Metro for highlighting the issue. The situation has become painful for the common man.

I recently read in Metro about the woman who tried to take help from cops when a cabbie refused to take her to her destination. I appreciate her efforts. If only all of us could realise our responsibilities, taxi drivers would not have the guts to refuse anyone.

I travel by taxi to most places in the city and have been refused on many occasions.

Prerna Malhotra, Birla High School

Pop pick: In response to the question: Why do you think Chetan Bhagat has such a massive fan following? January 30, I think readers can relate to the characters in his books. Either they identify with the situations that the novels’ characters find themselves in or they wish such incidents would happen with them. Bhagat’s books are primarily targeted at young readers. It is very natural that when one leaves school/ college, one yearns for those days. When one finds the echo of those campus days in novels, the bonding changes to an addiction and the desire to read his books increases.
Poonam Binaykiya

Harassment by taxi drivers is common in Calcutta. Corruption and cheating are rampant among taxi drivers, especially so at the airport prepaid taxi booth. Once I wanted a prepaid taxi to Joka from the airport. I was charged Rs 1,700, which seemed very high by any standard.

A man at the counter said it was the standard rate and if I wanted anything cheaper, I would have to hail a cab from outside the airport.

Most of the taxi drivers are very aggressive and seem to enjoy protection from unions and local political parties.

Rana Ganguly

I stay near Bikramgarh (south Calcutta). The cabbies at the local taxi stand seem least bothered to take passengers to the intended destination. I have complained several times but doubt if any action has ever been taken.

Chiradeep Roy

A few months back I hailed a cab near the Baguiati taxi stand to travel a short distance, for which I was asked to cough up Rs 50. When I protested and threatened to lodge a complaint, the cabbie said, “Aap kya minister hain? Aapko naam kyun batayein? (Are you a minister? Why should I tell you my name)?”

Other taxi drivers joined him and together they dared me to note down the numbers of the taxis. It is difficult to believe they have such audacity without the “support” of police.

Rupesh Chaudhuri

Yes, I will surly lodge a complaint against taxi refusal. However, I doubt if my complaint will be taken seriously by police. I want to know what action has been taken against the 18 or 19 taxi drivers who refused the three-member team from Metro.

Imran

I appreciate Metro’s effort in highlighting the plight of passengers in the hands of taxi drivers.

Taxi refusal is nothing new in the city. I hope the transport minister has a concrete plan to tackle this menace within a deadline.

The aggressive attitude of taxi drivers makes it obvious that there is a nexus between the taxi associations, police and political parties.

Sujoy

I would not make any complaint against taxi refusal because I believe the cops are hand in glove with the errant drivers. They will hardly take any action. The Metro report They dare you to complain, January 19, makes it obvious that they are not afraid of the men in uniform.

Sanjay Agarwal, Sambhu Nath Pandit Street

Recently, I went to Aurobindo Seva Kendra near Jadavpur police station with my 80-year-old father for his medical check-up. It was about 9.30pm by the time we stepped out. I tried to hail a taxi. Nearly a dozen refused to take us to Garia. Luckily, we saw a Calcutta police personnel who helped us get a taxi.

Rimi Bose

Indulgent police sergeants and people who do not complain are to be blamed for the growing menace of taxi refusal in the city. I will obviously lodge a complaint against such an act.

Anusha Chaudhuri

Passengers are greatly inconvenienced because of taxi refusal. Calcuttans will surely benefit from the information given by Metro about how to cope with the growing menace.

Recently, I tried to get a taxi from the airport to Agartala. Several taxis whizzed past me after I told them my destination. At last I managed to open the rear door of a taxi and got inside without giving the driver any opportunity to ask about my destination. In case of previous refusals, I had no scope to note down the number of the speeding taxis and lodge complaints.

Going by experience, cab drivers are in the habit of pooh-poohing such threats with nonchalance. Now that I know the guidelines for specific action once a cabbie refuses, I would surely lodge a complaint without shrugging it off as a minor irritant. Kudos to The Telegraph for publishing the report on refusal with guidelines to help harried passengers.

P.B. Saha, Salt Lake

Lodging a complaint is futile as long as taxi drivers in the city are protected by police, political parties and taxi unions. There is no proper system for feedback on action taken after a complaint is lodged.

My office is on Park Street near Assembly of God Church School and about 6pm if you ask a taxi driver to go to any place in south Calcutta, the reply is always “no”.

A. Addy

I appreciate the way Metro has raised an alarm against the taxi menace in the city. No other organisation seems to be interested. Political parties and students’ unions seem least bothered to protest against the public harassment.

At the Dunlop bridge crossing, taxis parked at their designated stands never go to Salt Lake via Shyambazar. They insist on taking the Belgharia Expressway. That gives them an extra run of 15 km. They not only refuse to go but also prevent you from catching an empty taxi passing by.

Subrata Dasgupta

The Metro report on taxi refusal clearly exposes the sorry picture of the city’s public transport. It is desired that the police set things right.

Govinda Bakshi,Budge Budge

Rogue drivers who can openly state “no one can do anything” for their misdeeds and can boldly give their name and licence number, exist only in Calcutta.

It is the fault of police, who should have arrested the driver for attempted kidnap and put him in lock-up for a few months, besides seizing the taxi. Suspension of the driver’s licence hardly matters, as one can drive in the city without a licence, or with a forged one. It is a “minor” inconvenience for the cabbie!

The cops seem to be very much in the game and unless the population wakes up to it and takes them to task for failing to enforce law, nothing will improve in Calcutta.

Sudip Das Gupta

Reading about the regular taxi torment faced by Calcuttans makes me feel ashamed of this city. Taxi drivers have taken the law into their hands and the government seems least bothered to penalise them.

The administration is too busy changing names of buildings instead of addressing this major issue. Be it the airport, station or anywhere else in the city, the problem is the same. Citizens expect some basic changes to improve the quality of their lives. The cosmetic ones can come later.

Sanjoy Bose

I have to hail taxis regularly from the Brabourne Road-Canning Street crossing for Ballygunge around 7.15pm five days a week. Almost everyday I am refused by at least 10 taxis or have to pay more than the meter reading despite having two senior citizens with me and a few policemen always manning the busy crossing.

Most of the taxis seem interested in picking up passengers with goods so that they can charge them exorbitant amounts.

Manish Gupta


Letters on reports appearing in Metro may be sent to:
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