More than 1 lakh autos to go off Mumbai roads today

Mumbai: Kailash Korde, More than one lakh autorickshaws will go off roads in the suburbs on Wednesday. Reason: The Mumbai

Autorickshawmens’ Union, led by Shashank Rao, son of trade union leader Sharad Rao, has announced a strike in protest demanding restrictions on app-based taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber.
The union, one of the biggest in the city, claims it represents around 83,000 drivers. No other union is participating or supporting the strike, but their members are likely to avoid plying their vehicles on the road, fearing damage by those on strike.
Transport commissioner Pravin Gedam said the department has taken adequate steps to avoid causing any inconvenience to commuters. Private vehicles, including cars, jeeps, buses, trucks and tempos, have been allowed to ferry passengers during the strike period. “BEST and MSRTC have been asked to operate extra buses and the police have also been asked to be vigilant,” said Gedam.
Mumbai has around 1.05 lakh autorickshaws. It is the third-largest mode of public transport in the suburbs after trains and BEST buses.
The union’s last strike was on February 15 this year.
Besides restrictions on app-based taxis, the union wants public service status for auto drivers even though citizens are unhappy with their rampant fare refusals and rude behaviour. Other demands include one lakh more auto permits for the city, curbing of illegal passenger operations, rolling back the permit fee hike and the immediate release of permits to waitlisted permit lottery winners in 2014.
Transport minister Diwakar Raote, along with the transport department, tried to avoid the strike by way of dialogue with the union, but the latter did not pay heed to it. Transport department sources said Raote has called a meeting of all the taxi and autorickshaw unions to address their issues at Sahyadri guest house on September 1, but Rao was adamant the strike continue.
“The meeting called by the transport minister has a single-point agenda, while our agitation is about various demands, which have been pending with the government for a long time,” said Rao.
Union sources said autorickshaws that ply outside major railway stations and the airport will also join the strike, which will begin from midnight, causing trouble for passengers making their journey into the city.
KK Tiwari, leader of the Swabhiman Taxi Riskshaw Union, said their union is not participating in the strike.