HYDERABAD: Although people these days prefer to hire app-based taxis, bikes and autorickshaws to get around the city, for someone looking for a regular autorickshaw, it is definitely a tough time.
Most regular autorickshaw drivers have stopped using mandatory meters and charge as they please for a ride, citing skyrocketing fuel prices.
According to the standards of the Regional Transport Authority (RTA), if the autorickshaw driver operates without a meter or charges more than the actual amount, he is liable to pay a penalty and his license will be cancelled.
However, autorickshaws attached to app-based aggregators have the freedom to charge as much as they want based on trip distance. For these aggregators, there is no one to control because the RTA says they are not under their purview.
Unfortunately, the common commuter is at the receiving end. To hire a regular autorickshaw, she has to accede to the driver’s request, whereas if one books a ride via an app, one has to pay an even higher fare.
Anusha Namburi, an interior designer, said, “There are no automobiles in the city by the meter. App-based car services charge even more. »
Autorickshaw fares were set by the government in February 2014, according to which the minimum fare (1.6 km) is Rs 20, and each subsequent kilometer is Rs 11, the holding charge for each minute is 50 paise .
A. Satish Reddy, General Secretary of Telangana Auto Union Samaikya, said: “These tariffs were set almost a decade ago. Does the government, which knows how to constantly increase fuel prices, not know how to increase the prices? There are 1,20,000 cars in circulation in this city. Shouldn’t the government that collects taxes without fail think about our livelihood?
Adapu Krishna, a rickshaw driver who is also a leader of the Center of Indian Trade Unions, said: “Although the cars offering app-based services are making constant trips, the earnings of the drivers are not satisfactory. A liter of LPG costs Rs 76, which gives a mileage of 15-18 km. For each trip, the aggregator charges Rs 20. If the trip is Rs 200, we only get Rs 100, after all expenses.
Bala Narasimha, another driver and resident of Sitaphalmandi, explained, “Representatives from app-based companies came to us and told us about the benefits of tying up with Ola, Uber and Rapido. But, what they promised turned out to be wrong. For each trip, they charge Rs 20.”
Co-Commissioner for Transport, RTA, J. Pandurang Naik, said: “If autorickshaw drivers refuse to operate without meters, it is a punishable offence, where the driver’s license can be revoked. For the app-based aggregator, there is no rate set by the RTA. They have their own software that sets the rate.
Shaik Salauddin, president of the Telangana Gig and Platform Workers union, said: “There are many taxis and autorickshaws, which are linked to app-based aggregators. They face many difficulties. Their incomes have declined, and drivers and passengers face multiple problems, including fare fluctuations and algorithm problems with the technology. Aggregators make more profit and in times of crisis there is no one to help poor drivers.
Arshan Ahmed Khan, a lawyer, said: “The test should be the same for everyone. The RTA should develop new laws and enforce them strictly. There should be equal rates.