Nov. 18: The Regional Transport Authority’s (RTA) fresh directives to owners of autorickshaws plying in the city to install fare meters within three months received a thumbs down from unions today after they rejected the new fares fixed by the administration.
The unions today told The Telegraph that the new fares were unacceptable as they were fixed by the administration without discussing them. They also said they would not abide by the new directives till they were called for discussion on the problems being faced by those plying autorickshaws in the city.
“We are not against installation of fare meters but the government should address the problems faced by those running autorickshaws like low fares, lack of medical benefits, harassment by police and transport officials. For years, we have been demanding that the issues be addressed but how can the government fix new rates without any discussion with us? We do not accept the rate fixed by the administration as the amount is not sufficient. We are discussing the matter with our members and we will put our demand before the government if we are called for talks,” secretary of the All Guwahati Autorickshaw Chalak Santha, Naren Pathak, today said.
There are around 8,000 autorickshaws plying on the city’s streets but there are no fare meters. As a result, passengers here are charged fares according to the will of those drivers of autorickshaws and this often leads to quarrel with commuters.
The regional transport authority on Thursday had issued a notification asking the autorickshaw owners and the drivers to install fare meters within three months and asked the transport department to take action those flouting the fresh directives.
The authority issued the fresh directives following the city bus and trekker associations’ announcement to go for a fare hike after the recent fuel price hike. The administration held a meeting with the city’s bus associations after they went on a strike crippling public transport.
On November 12, the RTA held a meeting with transport unions and decided to go for a revision of the fares of city buses, trekkers, share taxis, small goods-carrying trucks as well as autorickshaws. But the autorickshaw unions complained that none of their representatives were invited for the meeting to discuss their grievances.
“We have been demanding that there should be more centres for repairing fare meters. There are only one such centre at Guwahati club and we requested the government to open at least 12 such centres at different places in the city. In case the fare meters are fixed and there is no repair centre, those driving autorickshaws will have to sit idle if their meters develop any technical snag. We are in favour of installation of fare meters but we want a discussion on these issues before going for it,” Pathak said.
“If these issues are not addressed and we are forced to install fare meters, we will have no option but to go for an agitation,” Pathak said.