Mumbai: The regional transport office (RTO), which has impounded more than 400 old and illegal taxis from across the city over the past three days, now plans to shred the vehicles to pieces with gas cutters.
“We want these old, illegal and unwanted vehicles off the streets,’’ said Vikas Pandkar, regional transport officer from the eastern suburbs. The RTO has already issued showcause notices to the drivers whose vehicles have been seized and the officials will take a month to destroy the old vehicles.
“However, if we destroy the vehicles, most taxi drivers and owners said they would be rendered jobless. So, we have decided to rehabilitate them, helping them get soft loans and procure new vehicles at affordable prices. We want to encourage them to buy new vehicles and so are offering the loans,’’ said Pandkar.
Even Mumbai Taximen’s Union president A L Quadros seemed to be glad that the RTO was cracking a whip on old and illegal vehicles. “I submitted a memorandum to the transport department on Wednesday, requesting them to offer a ‘two-in-one’ status to new black-and-yellow taxis,’’ Quadros said. “Every new car has an AC. So, to make good use of that, a scheme should be started in which, a passenger can have the AC switched on but have to pay an extra 10%. Otherwise, he can take a drive at the normal fare.’’
Pandkar added that they had taken the decision to rehabilitate the affected drivers after taxi unions requested him to help these people, who would be left with no means to earn a living. “We have decided to help cabbies. But they will have to buy new cars that will comply with the pollution norms and the Maharashtra Motor Vehicle Rules,’’ Pandkar said.
Pandkar said that the RTO could help the taximen choose the right car, and for that, would liaison with automobile manufacturing companies, like Maruti and Tata. “We can help them get a 100% loan on cars. For bulk bookings, they could get the maximum discounted price,’’ he said. The RTO would also expedite the process of registering the new vehicles for these drivers.
At present, the main hurdle for taxi union leaders is to convince the drivers, whose cars have been confiscated, to buy new vehicles.