How frustrating is it when you are in a hurry to go somewhere, are frantically looking for an auto-rickshaw and everyone blatantly refuses to take you? The destination is either too close for them, too far or in the opposite direction. And if by your good fortune, a rickshaw driver agrees to take you, he will want a fare as per his wishes, not determined by the meter.
Several such reasons have made cab aggregators like Uber and Ola much-preferred options. But that hasn’t resolved the issue with rickshaws.
The Thane Traffic Police and RTO have come up with a possible solution for this issue. Firstly, they identified the reason rickshaw drivers refuse a rider. Certain parts of the cities do not offer them the possibility of riders. And even if auto drivers accept all the fares that come their way, they don’t get any incentives other than the meter fare.
If they have to spend that fare on fuel anyway, what’s in it for the drivers?
Ho rickshaws–the pilot project that will guarantee that riders get a ride to their destination, will also give incentives to participating drivers. ‘Ho’ in Marathi means ‘yes’. Apart from the support from Thane Traffic Police and the RTO, the initiative is supported by Apna Bhandar- a local departmental store and Ascend Adcom- an advertising agency.
From the first week of June, all participating rickshaws will have stickers saying “I am a responsible rickshaw driver. I will never say ‘No’ to the passenger”.
If a driver refuses a client even then, citizens can call the Thane RTO or a dedicated helpline number which will be launched shortly.
Speaking about what’s in store for the drivers, Nikhil Ballal, a sponsor of the campaign told the Mid-Day, “So many times, rickshaw drivers say no to people, even if it’s a senior citizen or a pregnant woman. We thought if we give them some incentives, they might change their attitudes.” He continues, “We will felicitate five best ones (drivers) every day and give them free groceries provided by Apna Bhandar. Whichever driver we receive a complaint against, will be out of the campaign, and action will be taken against him as per traffic and RTO rules.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police, (Traffic) Amit Kale explained, “The aim is to bring rickshaw drivers to say ‘Ho’ from no… I think this campaign can motivate at least some rickshaw drivers to change their attitude.”
The Ho rickshaws are good news for passengers as well as drivers! Now even if rickshaw drivers have to drive too far or too near, they’ll know something is waiting. The promise of incentives might help improve competition and productivity among them.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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