Irked over a notification of the Transport Department about a sharp hike in permit fees, the unions of autorickshaws, taxis and tour bus operators have decided to go on indefinite strike from Monday demanding to reduce the fee.
The notification issued last week stated the permit renewal fees of metered taxis, contract carriage buses, goods carrier vehicles, private service vehicles and others have been revised to Rs. 1,000 from Rs. 200. In case of late renewal of permits, owners will have to shell out Rs. 5,000 per month instead of Rs. 200, thus irking the unions who have planned to agitate against the sudden hike.
Shashank Rao, leader of Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union (MAU), said the government should understand that autorickshaw driver’s work and earn daily.
He said they are not businessmen who can afford to pay such hefty fees and noted that the Transport Department should understand this.
”It is a conspiracy to completely stop autorickshaws operating in the city,” he alleged.
While Rao agreed that auto drivers plying without permits should be taken to task, he demanded that at least one lakh new permits be issued for the unions to be able to challenge Ola and Uber with an increased fleet of autos plying the streets.
Autorickshaws are a part of the city’s public transport system and the Department should understand that most auto drivers come from low-income group and are the only earning members of the family, the auto union leader added.
A L Quadros, leader of Mumbai Taximen’s Union (MTU), described the hike as completely ‘uncalled for’ and said the taxi drivers are poor and cannot afford so much money.
Often permit owners are old or widowers and they forget to renew their permits and charging them Rs 5,000 is wrong, he said.
”We will meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and if he does not listen to us, then we will protest and the agitation will continue,” Mr. Quadros added.