Two-day off in a week is a dream schedule for most professionals, but the idea has failed to please the autorickshaw drivers in Patna.
Traffic superintendent of police (SP) Chandrika Prasad told The Telegraph that a plan is being chalked out to split the total number of autorickshaws in the state capital into two groups and create a roster under which each driver would get at least two days of rest per week.
The plan aims to clear the streets of the three-wheelers, which, the traffic police claim, are one of the biggest reasons for snarls in the city.
The SP said auto drivers flout traffic norms at will and do not even carry legitimate papers for the vehicles. “Of the total number of autos in the capital, only 10 to 12 per cent have road permit while the rest ply on any route they want to,” he said.
According to the figures available with the Patna police, there are around 40,000 autorickshaws plying on Patna roads at present.
“The fact is that any commercial vehicle, including autorickshaws, need to have a road permit issued by the regional transport authority. The permit specifies the route on which the driver can ply his vehicle. Earlier, too, there have been talks about the permit and the police have seized vehicles plying without the paper. But the situation has not improved much. There needs to be a concerted effort by all the agencies concerned to ensure regulated movement of commercial vehicles,” Prasad said.
The officer added that once the police found out the exact number of autorickshaws, the plan to divide them into two groups would be implemented without any delay.
“At present, there are easily a lot more autorickshaws plying on city roads than required by the passengers. This leads to competition among drivers, who, in a bid to get maximum passengers, flout traffic rules. The situation at Patna Junction is worse and the autorickshaws block all the roads along the roundabout. There is no queue system and the policemen also cannot do much to control the chaos. The situation is similar at the Income Tax roundabout, Hartali Mor and the High Court roundabout,” Prasad told The Telegraph.
“The exact plan is yet to be chalked out as there are many intricate details which have to be considered,” the SP added.
The idea, however, did not appeal much to the auto drivers. “The plan does not sound too good. Moreover, it is still very sketchy. We work seven days a week to run our families. The price of fuel and other commodities are so high now that we don’t really have a choice,” Raju Kumar, an autorickshaw driver, said.
Raj Kumar Jha, the general secretary of the Bihar State Auto Drivers’ Association, however, didn’t dismiss the plan out of hand. “Any plan worked out by the authorities sound good to them. They should consult us too. Earlier, meetings were organised between the association and the authorities but the same doesn’t happen now,” Jha said.