Passengers Still ‘Fare-Game’ For Some Rickshaw Drivers

Auto Rickshaw in the City
Image for representation only.

 

Taking an auto-rickshaw in the city continues to be a nightmarish experience for many Punekars who are still dependent on them…

The advent and establishment of Ola and Uber does not seem to deter many of these rogue rickshaw drivers who still think they rule the road, they say.

There are many instances of overcharging, refusing fares, double return fares, ad hoc fares and meter doctoring still prevalent in the city despite competition from the two aggregators.

It seems obvious that the competition does not bother them and they continue their bad habits without a care.

The biggest sufferers are short- and long-distance travellers who bear the brunt of the rogue rickshaw drivers.

However, it must be admitted that there are also many rickshaw drivers who are aware of the situation and never refuse a fare.

“It’s not the question of who is good or bad. By now I had expected most of the rogue rickshaw drivers to toe the line after the competition from Ola and Uber started,” says Ravindra Jain, a shopkeeper and regular user of the three-wheeler.

“Due to health issues, I take a rickshaw daily from my residence in Kondhwa to my shop in Laxmi Road. Sometimes I have to wait half an hour before I get one as rickshaw drivers are reluctant to take on Laxmi Road in the peak hour.

“Sometimes I am forced to pay 30 to 40 rupees more for my journey. I have no option but to do that. I am planning to use Ola or Uber soon once I get a grip of how to use their app,” he adds.

Smita Rajput, 23, a budding architect agrees. “I stay in Aundh and work in Bhandarkar Road. I usually take a bus but the other day the bus broke down and I was forced to take a rickshaw.

Seeing my plight, the rickshaw guy took advantage and charged me double to get home,” Smita says.

Some of them are only interested in short-term gains, says Girish Mahajan, executive in a software company.

“They wait near my society on NIBM Road and look for short fares for which they charge a fixed rate, like it or leave it. They hound in gangs and if one rickshaw driver refuses the others do too,” Mahajan adds.

“I am always resigned to the fact they will refuse or ask for more when I hail a rickshaw. Surprisingly, I have found the younger lot more co-operative than the older rickshaw drivers who are probably very set in their ways, “ says Mithali Karandikar, a sales executive.

Mohit Aney, a businessman, says he has mostly good experiences with rickshaw drivers.

“There are always a few bad apples. But most of the rickshaw drivers I have travelled with have been fair. I also found some of the demands reasonable. I do feel sorry for those who have remained honest despite facing difficult times.”

There many rickshaw drivers who stay firm in their path to achieve their goals without falling prey to easy money.

Iqbal Khan, 58, has finally fulfilled his dream of buying his own rickshaw. “It needed a lot of hard work to collect money for it. I had to look after my family plus save. It wasn’t easy but I did it.

“I never refused a fare when I worked 14 hours a day. If I had sat idle and refused fares, I wouldn’t have realised my dream.”

Suresh Gaikwad, Pune Suresh Gaikwad, 50, who has been driving a rickshaw for more than 10 years, is very clear in his approach.

“I have a family with three children. I want them to be educated and stand on their own feet. I don’t want them to see the days which I saw in my childhood.

“I am committed to my job. Easy money does not last. And I will go anywhere with the meter on.”

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