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Five pills for taxi torment

The government on Tuesday announced a five-point programme to handle rogue taxi drivers and cases of taxi refusals in and around the city. Transport minister Madan Mitra laid down the five tenets after meeting police officers and taxi union representatives. Mitra had announced similar measures earlier too but not much has changed. Metro lists the five measures.

■ Taxi owners have to send details of the drivers to local police stations

The details will include a copy of the driver’s ID card. “The owner can’t just make money…. He has to be responsible as well,” Mitra said. The details will help the cops track down errant drivers.

Preparing a database of drivers, a must to rein in rogue cabbies, would be a tall order. On many occasions the unions decide who will drive a taxi on a particular day. Owners say it’s usually two or three drivers per taxi and not everyone has an identity card.

■ Drivers to be slapped a spot fine of Rs 3,000 for refusing passengers

The minister said an errant driver would be arrested if he failed to pay the fine. “Why should an owner face the music for an offence committed by the driver? The drivers should feel the pinch,” Mitra said. “If a driver refuses five times in a day, he would be fined on as many occasions.”

The move sounds good but commuters wonder what if a cop can’t be spotted when a driver refuses to go. Cops wonder how a driver unable to pay the fine can be taken into custody. “There is no legal provision for taking a driver into custody immediately,” said an officer.

■ Crackdown ordered on shuttle cabs

“The police should seize shuttle cabs and arrest the drivers,” said Mitra. Shuttle cabs thrive at the Exide crossing, Maidan market, Park Circus crossing, Salt Lake, Ruby rotary and Gariahat, and on the approach to second Hooghly bridge. In a city lacking enough buses, shuttle cabs, though illegal, are the most dependable transport lifeline for many. “Buses are hardly available from Kalighat to Kasba after 10pm. We have to bank on shuttle services,” said Mainak Chatterjee, a regular commuter on the stretch.

■ Driving schools to have a government representative each

“The representatives will keep tabs on the training,” Mitra said. The schools promise fast and hassle-free driving licence even if the learner is not ready for it. There is no mechanism to ensure that motor vehicle inspectors properly conduct the test before issuing the licence.

■ Orientation camp for taxi drivers

Officers said earlier such camps had proved useless.