The astronomic rise in fuel prices has not just taken a toll on our commuters, but has also severely impacted the small vendors and merchants who line our roads and streets.
These street-side stalls and vendors are an integral part of Pune city and give it the colourful, vibrant edge. While they have survived the onslaught of modernisation, malls and e-commerce, the current hikes in fuel has come as a rude shock…
Babban Rao, a fruit seller on Lullanagar-Kondwa road says that petrol prices have this time really increased their expenses.
“Since we own a tempo in which we bring the produce from various corners of the city, the transportation cost has increased manifold. Also, we cannot increase the price of our products and make them at par with the big shops. The main advantage our customers get from us are the rates.
Sellers who do not own a vehicle have to pay the fuel and rent charges separately to the transporters. This infact increases their burden.
“Since we are situated on the main road, people crossing by often stop and buy from us, but for whose who are situated elsewhere, or in not so busy lanes are now forced to move to main roads as customers will not spend on fuel just to buy fruits and vegetables,” he adds.
The massive spike in fuel prices have however forced the city to look at more sustainable options that were hitherto ignored…
“I now deliberately try reducing my trips to the market, or go once and buy all that I can. Carpooling is another option my husband and I have opted for,” Pallavi Sahney, an aesthetician.
“Since my husband has to travel to his office and other business sites, we have started spending consciously and saving for the fuel expenses that needs to be incurred.
Vehicles have become a part of our lifestyle but if prices keep soaring in, I see myself using the city’s worst public transport system and my husband will then have to shift to a two-wheeler and have to bear the heat, quite literally,” Pallavi quips.
Prakash Jagtap, an auto driver, says that shifting to CNG has given him an advantage now in such a situation.
“I have shifted to CNG only a couple of months back and I am glad I did.
The meter rates cannot be tampered with, hence, the drivers who own a petrol or diesel auto have to handle such a crisis. Many deny trips to the extreme ends of the city on meter since the petrol consumption is higher and they have to return without any passengers, adding to their losses.
“In such situations, both the customer and us are in jeopardy. Either they will have to pay the hiked prices, or we will have to incur the extra expense,” he adds.
A cloth seller in a lane off MG Road complains that the footfall has significantly reduced and it is only the customers using public transport that keep them going.
“During the Ganapati festival, the streets were crowded but not as expected and now after the festivities, the lanes are deserted. Hike in petrol prices is definitely one of the reasons which is why you can see a lot of empty parking slots on this road, which is a very rare sight here.
“Students, teenagers and others who use public transport keep coming in, yet, there has been a significant drop in customers,” he adds.
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