Anup Ojha, The Kathmandu Post, 19 May 2018
Lalitpur Traffic Police have booked over 500 taxis drivers in for various violations in the last one month, a senior officer said on Friday.
Lalitpur District Traffic Police office Chief Sitaram Hachhethu told the Post, “Our officers are strictly monitoring compliance of rules by all motorists including taxi drives. We have intensified vigilance and deployed officers at major junctions and vulnerable areas in Lalitpur.”
The bookings in Lalitpur are part of the vigilance campagin launched in the second week of April by the traffic police against rogue drivers who charge passengers around 50 to 100 per cent more than the fare displayed on the digital meter, if they switch it on. Many drivers, particularly those who ply taxis around Jamshikhel, Sanepa, Jawalakhel and Kumaripati, do not use the meter and arbitrarily charge almost twice the due fare.
“Some unscrupulous drivers who ply ramshackle, dirty, unwashed, 15 to 20-year-old Maruti Suzuki 800cc taxis, that deserved to be thrown in a junkyard, have the temerity to demand excess fare or bluntly refuse passengers,” said an expatriate Indian from Mumbai who travels by taxi daily to Kathmandu.
“Although there are many new Maruti Suzuki Alto and Hyundai Eon hatchback taxis, hiring one in Lalitpur is often an ordeal for foreigners, particularly those from Europe who do not speak Nepali or Hindi languages. I regularly pay 65 to 70 per cent more than the normal fare by meter. I do this voluntarily because I’m aware petrol prices have increased recently. Although, I offer to pay more, many drivers either rudely refuse or do not reply and look away as if an alien would pop out from the other side. It is insulting and humiliating,” the senior executive told the Post.
The Traffic Police are strictly monitoring taxi drivers after a flood of complaints from taxi users like the executive and the crackdown on rogue public transport cartels initiated by Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa.
Currently, traffic police officers intercept taxis and inspect the condition of vehicle, registration papers and, some officers ask passengers whether the driver agreed to ferry them by meter or arbitrary charge. The officers are currently doing spot checks at Kupondole, Jawalakhel and Kumarapati areas in Lalitpur.
“Earlier our officers booked up to 35 taxi drivers in one hour while doing surprise checks. This figure has steadily decreased recently to two to three taxis in one hour. Our officers are immediately booking taxi drivers who have not installed digital meters. The strict vigilance has made a difference. The public can verify it,” said Hachhethu.
Officers have booked many drivers who refused to ferry passengers to their destinations. Rules mandate the taxi driver should ferry passengers by meter for distances over 2km. However, many drivers refuse to travel short distances according to meter.
The traffic office in the district has set up 10 designated taxi stands - in Satdobato, B&B Hospital, Gwarko, Patan Hospital, Lagankhel, Jawalakhel, Mangalbazar, Patan Dhoka, Mahalaxmisthan and Kupondole.