Tired of their endless wait for a relief package from the state government,the taxi drivers whose cabs were phased out have begun procedures to buy new ones.
The High Court had in December 2008 ordered the phasing out of 25-year-old taxis owing to issues related to road worthiness of these vehicles. The taxi unions had demanded that the drivers or owners should be given relief by way of financial package for the purchase of new vehicles.
The drivers or owners have begun applying for loans for new vehicles simply because they cant wait till the government decides on the relief package. They have to earn their daily wages to run their houses, said A L Quadros,general secretary of the Mumbai Taximens Union,the largest union in the city.
Tariq Khan,a taxi driver,said: How long can we wait without jobs for the relief package. We cant afford to sit idle.
Of the 55,000 taxis in the city,Tardeo,Wadala and Andheri Regional Transport Offices had shortisted 4,270,1,808 and 2,010 taxis respectively (a total of 8,088) that are 25 years old or more for the phase-out plan. Principal Secretary,Transport Department,C S Sangitrao,said: The matter is sub-judice and therefore I cannot comment on it.
According to figures from the three RTOs,nearly 50 per cent of owners have begun the process of replacing the rickety black and yellow cabs. We have around 2,010 taxis that are 25 years old,of which the owners of around 1,620 vehicles have started the loan procedures, said a senior RTO official.
Quadros said the union has been offered soft loans for new vehicles. Soft loans are offered by Syndicate Bank,State Bank of India,etc at an interest rate of four per cent per annum for 90 per cent cost of the vehicle, he said.