Posted on 26 July 2011.
The time when we used to say ‘Aye Auto’ and get an autorickshaw is over. Kochi has now become a war zone for civilians and we face a battle every day. Getting from point A to point B is easier said than done now a day if an autorickshaw is your mode of transport. With each passing day, auto drivers are becoming even more arrogant and unruly. I am easily the most frustrated person in Kochi and here is why.
Today trying to get an autorickshaw ride in Kochi ideally needs you to display your gymnastic skills on the road. If you are in dire need of an auto you are required to play daredevil, and jump in front of it so that you draw the attention of our hero. (Yes you got that right, I meant the autorickshaw driver).
I worked in Mumbai for two years and I often made use of the autorickshaw and taxi service in the city. In the two years, there has not been a single time that I ever had a problem with an auto driver (or taxi driver for that matter) that refuses to go to your destination. No matter how close or far your destination is, these guys are always happy to take you. And that’s not all. What really takes the cake is how they switch on the meter (without you begging for it). Once you reach your destination the auto driver hands you a rate card with the rates of different meter readings. The rules are quite strict and the drivers know they would be in deep sh*t if they don’t comply.
If the authorities can make sure that these rules can be adhered to in big cities like Mumbai, it begs me to ask why it is so difficult to implement the rules here? Well, when some complain the high literacy rates in our state (which I think is the last excuse that should be given for this cause), some others blame the arrogant Malayali attitude. Again, I wonder why we don’t find exceptions amongst them.
If you thought age would be a bar in being rude, you got that wrong. I’ve come across men and women who are 80+ being charged humongous amounts for short distances, and if they don’t succumb to the driver’s demands, they are forced to bear with foul language. One of my friends was telling me how she was charged 50 rupees from Kadavanthra till Panampilly Nagar, a couple of weeks back. And when she asked why this high a rate, she was almost threatened. Being a girl who didn’t want to hear abusive language in the public, she paid off the money and walked off.
The situation is grave. Kochi auto rickshaw drivers are the worst. Unless our cops and authorities stick to the laws stringently, I have to say that travelling in the city would be a nightmare in the coming days. And my fellow Kochiites, we need to take a stand here, that we won’t pay huge amounts for short distances, and also that we won’t be scapegoats anymore. Once the public is strong, we can see a change in the autorickshaw driver’s attitude as well. I hope so!