Unscrupulous cab drivers overcharge during Dashain

Ishwar Dev Khanal

October 9, 2019

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Unscrupulous cab drivers overcharge during Dashain
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KATHMANDU: Taxi drivers in Kathmandu are found to be frequently breaking the rules by denying to turn on their meters or by refusing to go to required destinations especially during Dashain.

However, passengers hesitate to complain to the authorities.

Take for instance: Bimala Gautam of Dhumbarahi had to reach Maitidevi. The cab driver, however, asked for Rs 400. When she told the driver that the destination was not far away to charge such fare, the driver abruptly responded: “Take another taxi.”

The Kathmandu Metropolitan Traffic Police Office has repeatedly encouraged passengers to file complaints about violations of traffic rules, including cheated by unscrupulous taxi drivers.

The cab driver also turned down her request to go on the meter saying that it was the fare he usually charged to the desired location during the Dashain festival. This clearly showed that the driver had no intention of turning on the meter.

Bimala had no choice than to get into the cab by paying Rs 400 for not more than a 3.5-kilometer drive. The actual fare would not have been more than Rs 150 had the driver turned on the meter. However, she even didn’t think of approaching traffic police who were standing near the Maitidevi Chowk.

The Kathmandu Metropolitan Traffic Police Office has repeatedly encouraged passengers to file complaints about violations of traffic rules, including cheated by unscrupulous taxi drivers.

However, most of the passengers would rather keep quiet since they do not want to get involved in an unnecessary dispute. “I didn’t want to approach traffic police as I know this will further aggravate the problem,” Bimala told Khabarhub.

According to the regulation, a cab driver must take passengers to whatever destination they may request. Passengers can also dial 103 to lodge a complaint.

However, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division says complaints reaching the Division will be treated with utmost seriousness.

In the fiscal year 2018/2019, the Division booked over 12,749 cabbies in the Kathmandu Valley for violating traffic rules, refusing to go to the desired destination, and arbitrarily charging a fare.

Most of the cases were a violation of regulations and denying to go on a meter among others, according to the Division.

In the fiscal year 2017/2018, a total of 8,700 taxis were booked for violating the rules.

“We have given topmost priority to address passengers’ concerns and complaints that they lodge through social media such as Facebook or Twitter,” SP Rabi Kumar Poudel, Spokesperson at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division told Khabarhub.

He said that they would take action against the taxi drivers provided that the passengers lodge a complaint at the Division.

SP Poudel said the traffic police are investigating by deploying police in plain clothes and uniform during the festival.

According to the regulation, a cab driver must take passengers to whatever destination they may request. Passengers can also dial 103 to lodge a complaint.

“Passengers should not hesitate to lay a complaint if they feel they are being cheated by the unscrupulous cab drivers,” said SP Poudel, adding that passengers have the right to take the taxi to any destination they want to.

Dil Bahadur, a cab driver, meanwhile, does not deny the allegations of ‘cheating’ passengers during Dashain. “In fact, some drivers charge exorbitantly during festivals since very few taxis ply the roads during Dashain.”

He, however, said going on meters can sometimes end up in a loss as they don’t get enough passengers.

The initial meter rate of a taxi is Rs. 14 and the rate has been adjusted at Rs 39 per kilometer.

However, most of the taxi drivers are also found to refusing to take passengers to nearby destinations. “I was in a hurry to reach Naxal from Hadigaon. But the taxi driver refused to take me,” complained Sujan Maharjan, a businessman of Hadigaon.

According to him, the cab driver asked me to give double the amount in the meter.

However, the Division claimed that they have been taking action against 30-40 defrauding taxi drivers every day. According to the Division, they charge Rs 500 to Rs 3,000 as penalty from them.

The Division also recommends the Transport Management Department to suspend the license of the taxi driver facing action over five times.

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