Chennai auto drivers unhappy with government's apathy to their needs

They feel the government of the day should have done more to minimize the losses that auto rickshaw driver incurred after the floods.

Chennai: Governments’ apathy towards the plight of auto drivers, whose vehicles were damaged during the unprecedented floods that hit this metropolis last year and the administration’s failure in controlling the mushrooming of app-based auto service are some of the grievances they have against the AIADMK government.

Representatives of several auto rickshaw unions in Chennai alleged that the government did not organise sufficient number of camps for repairing the meters that were damaged heavily during the floods in November-December last.

They feel the government of the day should have done more to minimize the losses that auto rickshaw driver incurred after the floods. Adding to the woes of auto rickshaw drivers’ is the fact that demands of the unions to increase the auto fare in line with rising oil prices fell on deaf ears, thus ushering in a new era
of app-based auto rickshaws.

R. Murali, who is a member of Adambakkam Auto Drivers Association, says he had to shell out Rs 3,200 for repairing his auto, which was damaged during the floods. “The government said it organised several camps but all camps were full.

The government should have organised sufficient number of camps. Since every camp was full, I was forced to spend from my pocket so that I can earn,” he said.

“I could not have waited till it was repaired at the camp since I am the only earning member of the family,” he said. Kuppuswamy, who runs an auto rickshaw in Ekkaduthangal area, has a different story to narrate. “I did suffer in the floods but when I was optimistic that I would manage, Ola autos landed which actually reduced our income to less than half of what we used to earn.”

“I earn less than '500 a day. We have been asking the Government to increase auto fare. They never did. Now Ola auto has come and it has taken away most of the income,” he said, adding that government should have allowed Ola autos only after fulfilling their demand of increasing the fare.

“We had been demanding a revise in the meter charges. If the minimum tariff is fixed at Rs 40, drivers would not fleece passengers,” he added. Another grievance that auto drivers’ have against the government is the rules that makes it mandatory for them to go through a private agency for availing permits.

“Authorities in transport offices do not accept permit forms. They always ask us to get the work done through private agencies, which demand hefty amounts. But the government never reined in such officials,” M.S Rajendran, President of Auto Drivers Welfare Association, said.

They are also up in arms against non-fulfillment of the promise made by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa during her 2011 campaign that she would take steps to amend the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (Amendment) 2007 that mandates minimum educational qualification of 8th standard for applying for a license.

Some auto rickshaw drivers’ say the DMK’s promise of 50 per cent subsidy to people belonging to scheduled castes for purchasing an auto would benefit a lot of people.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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