Srinagar: Failure of authorities to install fare meters in auto-rickshaws is taking toll on passengers in the summer capital.
“We are being looted by unscrupulous auto-rickshaws who charge exorbitant rates. Ironically authorities are sitting on the issue. I have been hearing about the passing of directions, and orders by authorities to ensure installation of meters in autos, but nothing is being done on the ground,” said Mudasir Ahmed, a passenger.
Passengers said that for a distance of fewer than three Kms, they have to pay anywhere between Rs 100 to Rs 150. They said that the rates get even higher during absence of buses and cabs in the evenings, inclement weather, or any other disturbance.
“Only yesterday, I was unwell and preferred auto for a short distance. The driver charged exorbitant rates although the distance was short,” said Saqib Ahmed.
The passengers said that as there is usually absence of buses and cabs during evening time, winters and rainy season the situation is more difficult. They said female passengers face a lot of difficulty due to high fares.
“We cannot hitchhike like male passengers and most office goers. This is where we suffer most. We hope authorities will look into the issue as this has been going on for years,” said a female passenger.
Various auto operators said that most of them don’t install meters as there are no strict directions for the same. “When authorities will enforce the order of meters, we will install them. We also don’t want a rift with passengers on daily basis. If authorities want to implement meters, they should ensure the rate will be in a way that will help us earn,” said Mushtaq Ahmed, an auto-driver.
Another auto driver said that “We don’t ask for huge rates, it is only that fuel prices are sky rocketing and we also have a family to feed. Everything should be taken into consideration while implementing meters,” he said.
An official from Traffic police said “we are trying their best but the transport department has to implement it.” A top official from the Transport department said that he will look into the issue.
“I will surely take up this matter in our meeting with the officials who are directly in charge of the issue. We will ensure that all the guidelines are followed and that meters are installed in auto rickshaws,” he said. When contacted, RTO Kashmir, ARTO Srinagar did not respond to the multiple calls and text messages of this reporter.