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Fine weighs heavy on cops

Police have been asked to fine taxis caught refusing passengers Rs 3,000 each in accordance with a provision in the Motor Vehicles Act that they have been ignoring for years.

The usual practice is to slap a fine of Rs 100, a penalty that is hardly a deterrent to refusal of passengers by habitual offenders.

Apart from a heftier fine, the strategy to rein in rogue cabbies includes taxi bays managed by the police in 11 locations where passengers are most likely to be refused.

The locations include the taxi stands outside South City and Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals.

A notice circulated among the 25 traffic guards in the city mentions that the police need to impose a fine of Rs 3,000 each instead of Rs 100 for taxi refusal.

“There is a section in the Motor Vehicles Act that attracts a penalty of Rs 3,000. It has been invoked in certain pockets of the city in the past. With the number of taxi refusal complaints increasing, we have decided to implement this act on a larger scale,” deputy commissioner (traffic) V. Solomon Nesakumar said.

The West Bengal Motor Vehicles Rules states that permits to ply taxis are to be issued on condition that drivers won’t refuse passengers, misbehave with them or ask for more than the metered fare.

“Clause A of section 120 of the motor vehicles rules prohibits the driver from misbehaving, clause B of the same section bars excess fare and clause C bans taxi refusal. Contravention of either of the three clauses means a violation of the terms and conditions in the carriage permit and attracts a penalty of Rs 3,000 under 192A of the Motor Vehicles Act,” a police officer said.

The public vehicles department has lately slapped a fine of Rs 3,000 each on some taxi drivers or owners for refusing passengers.

The locations earmarked for the taxi bays include the Chowringhee Road-Lindsay Street crossing, Hazra crossing, Park Street-Russell Street crossing and Mani Square.

“Traffic police officers will be present in these taxi bays and some vehicles will be reserved so that commuters are not harassed. If the number of people seeking assistance is more than the number of reserved vehicles, police officers will help them find taxis on the road,” a senior officer of the traffic department said.

The taxi bays, sources said, would be “active” during stipulated hours, depending on the volume of commuters in that area.

“Taxi bays will be active in front of hospitals during and after visiting hours. That is the time when a large number of people coming out of hospitals need taxis. For shopping malls, the time and duration will vary from a weekday to a weekend,” the officer said.

Passengers who are refused by taxis can register a complaint on the spot. “We will seize the driving licence and the cabbie will have to pay the requisite fine to get it back from the traffic guard. If the driver isn’t carrying his licence, we will seize the vehicle papers. The onus will then be on the owner to pay the fine and get back the documents,” the officer said.

A section of the police fear the strategy might boomerang. “Knowing they could be fined, why would taxis agree to be on reserve in a bay rather than ply on the road? How will officers force a taxi to remain stationed at the bay?” an insider said.

no-refusal Bays

  • Lindsay Street-JL Nehru Road crossing
  • In front of South City
  • In front of Mani Square
  • In front of Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals
  • In front of RN Tagore hospital
  • Jeevan Deep crossing
  • Russell Street-Park Street crossing
  • Near Poddar Court
  • Hazra crossing