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Bill trauma for taxi boss

Bimal Guha. File picture

Calcutta, July 19: The leader of Bengal’s biggest taxi owners’ union took two cabs yesterday to check if the furore about rogue cabbies in Calcutta had any merit and got a rude “yes” in answer.

Bimal Guha, the general secretary of the Bengal Taxi Association (BTA), was refused a printed bill by one taxi driver, who was not even carrying his licence.

When Guha, who did not reveal his identity, took another taxi in the evening, the driver abused him for seeking a bill. Guha decided to inform the owner of the second taxi about the driver’s misbehaviour, but he found that the taxi’s registration number was not mentioned in the bill, which he got after a heated exchange of words.

Exasperated and convinced that the complaints against rogue cabbies had substance, Guha lodged a police complaint this morning. “I was really surprised with what I saw. I had taken the taxi rides to see for myself whether the complaints of daily commuters are just,” said Guha, to whose union 19,000 of Bengal’s 37,000 taxis are affiliated.

Guha, who has been the BTA’s general secretary since 1992, took the first taxi from CIT Road around 3pm yesterday. Before getting off at Lansdowne, he told the driver that he wanted a bill. The driver said his printer was not working.

When Guha asked for the driver’s licence, he failed to show it. “He showed me a photocopy and said that is how he has been driving in Calcutta. If the police catches him, he gives Rs 100 and goes scot-free,” Guha said. When the union leader questioned him further, the driver sped off without taking the fare.

More was in store for Guha when he took another taxi from Lansdowne to return to CIT Road in the evening. “When I asked for a bill, the driver started abusing me. He said no passenger had ever asked for a bill and refused to give me one,” the union leader said.

When Guha threatened to lodge a police complaint, the driver reluctantly agreed to give the bill.

Guha got his third “shock” when he took a look at the bill. “I decided to call up the taxi owner. Our union maintains a database of taxi owners. But the registration number was not mentioned in the bill,” he said.