Hyderabad: Over 50 per cent of the nearly 2 lakh auto drivers in Greater Hyderabad who transport lakhs of school children and other passengers daily do not have driving licence. Leaders of auto unions themselves admit that half of their fraternity is not eligible to obtain a transport driving licence.
A clause in the Central Motor Vehicle Act that 8th class minimum education is mandatory to obtain "transport licence" is the main reason for thousands of auto drivers not having it. Most of the auto drivers are either school drop outs from third and fourth classes or have no minimum education.
Traffic cops plan to launch a drive to send to jail people driving vehicles without driving licence and are asking these drivers to obtain at least non-transport driving licence. Auto union leaders have appealed to the government to conduct special melas for obtaining licence.
"We keep booking cases even against two-wheeler riders and car drivers for not having a licence. Even educated people drive vehicles without a driving licence which is dangerous to other road users too," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Hyderabad Traffic) Mr A V Ranganath said.
While Road Transport officials said the Central government shoud amend the provision, it is likely to be made a minimum 10th class pass soon. "Transport licence is issued to candidates who drive passenger and goods vehicles. The 8th class clause was included mainly for truck drivers who drive from one State to another and the regional language chan-ges. They should be able to read traffic signs," Telangana Joint Trans-port Commissioner Mr B Venkateshwarlu said.
Telangana Autorick-shaw Drivers Union (AITUC) general secretary B Venkatesham said driving licence should be made mandatory for purchase of new vehicles.
"The government should also write to Central government to exempt auto drivers from education clause by coming out with a cut-off date," he said.
Training plans for drivers yet to take off
The project to train autorickshaw and cab drivers to behave well with tourists has mostly remained on paper.
Except for 200-odd drivers trained six years back by the tourism department, there is no regular training or certificate course being conducted to train drivers to be courteous and
follow etiquette while dealing with tourists, especially from abroad.
The Telangana Tourism department conducts counselling for a day or two on World Tourism Day and other occasions. There should be certificate course which the driver can display on the vehicle, said Telangana Autorickshaw Drivers Union general secretary B. Venkatesham.
Autorickshaw and taxi drivers were tipped to be deployed as tourism ambassadors as they are the first to interact with tourists as they arrive....