Monday, December 11, 2023

Autorickshaw menace prevails unabated, unchecked

Mail News Service

Jamshedpur: To begin with, where are the autorickshaw stands? The ones behind Hindustan Building and near the Sakchi Post Office may be exceptions but, in general, these three wheelers are seen parked anywhere along busy roads with all semblances of �unharnessed democracy� in terms of the right to defy traffic norms.

There was an abstract agreement when, in the course of that so called historic strike gradually fizzling out, that autorickshaws would be parked at earmarked stands, restrictions in regard to passenger carrying would be followed, all music systems in these vehicles would be discontinued, right hand guards on the rear passenger side would have to be fitted and some other basic do�s that were prescribed by the district administration. The denizens are yet unsure if the licenses of drivers and fitness certificates of the vehicles have yet been updated. All that the commuters know is that they continue to face the perennial hazards of overloading, wrong side overtaking and the drivers somehow sticking perilously on to their seats with passengers loaded on the left and right of these maverick carriers of seven or eight passengers per trip.

Often auto drivers have been found looking left and right except in front to load a passenger, caring two hoots for the dangers they pose to people on the road or in other vehicles. These auto rickshaw drivers suddenly jam the brakes or equally suddenly swerve to the left without any indication when they spot a passenger. These antics have, on several occasions, caused accidents, some serious in nature.

The administration was kind enough to consider the fare raise proposal because the autorickshaw unions pointed out that carrying less passengers would reduce income and catering for maintenance and fuel costs would become difficult. The autos were back on the roads after the agreement or whatever it was. Within a few days of the return of these three wheeler dynamites, overloading returned to the old order but the enhanced fares remained and continue to remain unaltered. So do the life and limb threatening ways of these daredevil drivers.

The next riddle that scratches the mind is where are the traffic cops? They are seen at vital intersections like the Sakchi roundabout and at the �multilayered� crossing adjacent to the Eye Hospital.  These �poor souls� either stand and gape helplessly or look the other way. If some senior police official does happen to visit the area around the Sakchi roundabout, the traffic cops materialize out of the blue blowing their whistles and wielding their batons in the air. That is signal enough for �Bada Sahib�s� arrival and these autos suddenly are seen being parked in a decent manner although the place for parking of Bistupur, Station, Golmuri and Telco routes may not be the spots marked out for a stand as the rarely �decently parked� vehicles do cause traffic constraints.

Finally, what are the auto rickshaw union leaders doing to implement the �whatever agreement� regarding parking and the carrying of passengers? At the time of the strike, they growled, roared and hollered until there were loud whispers among the auto drivers as non-plying of their vehicles was causing financial strain with an unrelenting administration refusing to oblige them and their demands. The leaders got whiff of the sentiments and somehow managed to get a margin of grace before claiming the victory cake and eating the whole of it.

It is time now for the administration concerned to re-clamp the stern attitude and instill in these auto drivers and their union leaders the fear of �follow traffic norms or else��. Meanwhile, the citizens or daily commuters who travel despite the hazards will have to keep their fingers crossed.

Till such times, �Amen!�

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