Morung Express News
Dimapur | September 4
The lifting of restriction on the movement of passenger vehicles came as a relief for both the public as well as the auto drivers in Dimapur.
As per the Consolidated Guidelines for Unlock 4 issued by the Nagaland Government on August 31, auto rickshaws were allowed to ply with certain restrictions on number of passengers for ensuring social distancing.
While the guidelines also mentioned that the fares to be charged by all categories of passenger vehicles will be at the rate as prescribed by the Regional Transport Authorities (RTAs) or District Transport Authorities (DTAs), the authorities in Dimapur are yet to come up with the rates.
With nothing said about fares till date, passengers have been at the receiving end in Dimapur.
Sharing her experience with The Morung Express, a commuter said “Earlier I used to pay Rs 20 from Padumpukhuri to Rail gate. Now they charge Rs 60 per person.”
This is a threefold increase in the fare The pinch is felt more by those who have to commute daily for their work.
An office goer shared that the fare has doubled after the lockdown. “We have no other choice than to pay as charged, as we have to be present at work. But if this continues, it would be a problem for most people,” he added.
Dimapur District Auto Drivers Union (DDADU) President Tito Yepthomi also said that the Union has received complaints regarding extra auto fare being charged by the auto drivers.
‘Cannot charge usual amount anymore’
However, according to the auto drivers, charging the usual amount is no more viable, given the current situation.
Barring some incidents of drivers flouting the rules and carrying more than the prescribed/allowed number, the cap on passengers has had an adverse effect on their income.
“We are now able to carry only two passengers per trip. It is very difficult to sustain ourselves with the income if we stick to the old rates,” an auto driver in Dimapur shared.
“In case of auto rickshaw, the number of passengers should not be more than one in case of three seater, and not more than two passengers in a six seater,” the government guidelines had mentioned.
Added to the limit on passengers, the odd-even traffic rule means that one auto can ply for only three days in a week.
“We cannot earn on a daily basis because we have to follow the odd-even rule,” the driver added.
Another driver shared that the increase in fuel price is a major problem for them. “Our income is greatly reduced due to the restrictions and on top of that, the fuel price is high. Whatever I earn is almost used up for refueling. At this rate, we have no option but to increase the fare,” he said.
No uniformity in rate
It may be noted that the increase in fares after the lockdown is not uniform. The rates are reportedly being charged by the drivers on their own volition.
The DDADU President said that, following receipt of complaints, the union had advised/requested the drivers to charge ‘reasonable fares’ from passengers.
The union had also shared contact numbers of its officials for the public to register their complaints and grievances.
The mobile app ‘RTA Auto Fares App’ launched by the Dimapur District administration in 2017 to avail ‘quick and accurate rates’ of fares for auto rickshaw rides shows the same rates as before the lockdown.
DC Dimapur Rajesh Soundararajan told The Morung Express on September 4 that the rates will be revised and updated at the earliest.
In the mean time, commuters can only hope for an early intervention.