Taximen’s Association of Dhanbad outside the station complex on Wednesday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Taxi owners and drivers on Wednesday threatened to go on the protest path for not being allocated parking space in one of the five lanes leading to Dhanbad station.
Their threat came a day after Dhanbad traffic police enforced a five-lane arrangement to ease snarls on the approach road to the A-class junction of East Central Railway (ECR).
Dhanbad division of ECR, under a massive expansion plan, has increased the station’s circulating area from 10m to 60m at a cost of Rs 43 lakh. While the first lane is exclusively for VIPs, the second is a freeway with no provision for vehicles to stop. The remaining three are reserved for private cars, auto-rickshaws and rickshaws.
Commercial taxis have been allocated parking space about 50m away from the lanes, near the exit gate of the station complex.
Taxi owners are crying foul.
“We have been parking our vehicles in front of the station’s entrance since decades. About a year ago, at a meeting in the presence of then divisional railway manager Sudhir Kumar and former Dhanbad MP Chandrashekhar Dubey, the authorities had assured us that a separate lane will be designated for us,” claimed secretary of Taximen’s Association of Dhanbad Mumtaz Quraishi.
He accused the railway authorities of not keeping their promise and demanded that the freeway, i.e. the second lane, be allotted to them.
Quraishi reasoned that it would be difficult for the 70-odd taxis, usually parked outside the station everyday, to attract passengers under the new arrangement.
“If they fail to abide by their promise, we will be forced to launch an agitation,” Quraishi said.
The railway administration countered the charges. Senior officials accused the taxi operators of trying to force an undue demand on them.
Senior divisional commercial manager, Dhanbad division, Dayanand said: “No such assurance was given to them. How can we allow such large number of taxis to be parked at such a strategic location, which we have planned for better traffic management at the station complex.”
They were not being driven away, but were being given a place where they could wait longer for passengers, Dayanand said, justifying the reason for not allocating a separate lane to the taxis.
Notably, the original plan had provisions for six lanes, with one reserved for the taxis too. But it was later shelved due to space crunch.
Quraishi rued the fact that they had not sought for any written assurance from the railway authorities during their meeting in 2012.