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Kiosks to curb taxi refusal

The transport department and police will set up kiosks at major traffic intersections to tackle taxi refusal and rogue drivers, minister Madan Mitra promised hours after two passengers were allegedly beaten up by a cabbie in south Calcutta on Monday.

“We’ll set up no-refusal kiosks with the police at important crossings like Gariahat, Ballygunge Phari, Bhowanipore, Ultadanga and Howrah and Sealdah stations. In 15 minutes, the police will track down the rogue taxi with the help of CCTV footage,” Mitra said at a programme hosted by the public vehicles department (PVD).

“Some taxi drivers are playing truant but the government will not sit back and watch.”

Offer letters were handed out to 604 applicants seeking new taxis at the programme attended by representatives of taxi unions as well as the police.

The PVD recently started slapping a fine of Rs 3,000 on taxi drivers for refusal, breaking away from the usual practice of a Rs 100 fine.

“If required, the PVD will slap the Rs 3,000-fine on a taxi even thrice in a day if it refuses passengers on three occasions. Let the message go out — taxi refusal will have to stop at all cost,” the transport minister said, adding that “not every driver is a rogue”.

Mitra urged the police to take firm steps against taxi drivers “who believe they can get away with anything”. “Seize their licences. The PVD too should conduct surprise raids with the police. I would even ask local councillors to step out and help,” he said.

This is not the first time Mitra has used tough words against taxi torment. He told the Assembly on July 7 that taxi refusals would come to an end by December 31.

“I have set a date and will do it. I have been told many taxis are removing the ‘no-refusal’ logo after clearing the fitness test. Let me tell them, we will run surprise checks and charge Rs 5,000 as fine,” he warned. “We will not accept anything where commuters are being held at ransom.”