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In Gurgaon,rape by cabbie raises safety issue,again

The rape of a 40-year-old household help near Gurgaon’s Rajiv Chowk on Friday morning,allegedly by a call centre cab driver,has driven home the security threat often posed to the Millennium City by these drivers.

Written by Tanushree Roy Chowdhury | Gurgaon |
January 11, 2009 1:06:25 am

The rape of a 40-year-old household help near Gurgaon’s Rajiv Chowk on Friday morning,allegedly by a call centre cab driver,has driven home the security threat often posed to the Millennium City by these drivers.

Though the Gurgaon police have arrested the 30-year-old accused and impounded the car,police officials admit that it is almost impossible to keep a tab on the scores of cabbies plying in the city,mainly due to a gross shortage of personnel in the police department. “The lack of public transport within Gurgaon is the main reason why people risk safety and hitch a lift from these cabbies,” a senior officer explained.

While there are many criminal cases reported against these drivers,the officer also pointed out that the reverse is also true. “At times,these drivers are at the receiving end; many have lost their lives in the temptation of earning some extra money,” the officer said.

There is no legislation governing the maximum hours put in by drivers manning vehicles for the many BPO and IT sector units operating from out of the city. But transport companies said most of them regulate their drivers by logging them off after a daily average of 12 or 14 hours of work. “Drivers are responsible for managing their own fatigue,”’ said S P Meena of Global Travels,which hire out cars to call centres. “Our drivers work for eight hours on an average day and drive on fixed routes.

“But it does happen that they are tempted to earn a few extra bucks if the vehicle is returning empty after dropping off employees.”

Drivers,on the other hand,said they are forced to ferry unknown passengers at odd hours after their shifts since their fixed salaries are not enough. “It is a profession where we spend long hours waiting for customers,” a cab driver,Manoj Sharma,said. “Fatigue is not really an issue — we are here in the city to earn money for our families,and a salary of a mere Rs 7,000 is not sufficient.”

Though the police and transport companies regularly check these drivers and issue challans to defaulters,the police say the lack of adequate number of drivers is a major reason why most defaulters find alternative employments aplenty. “We have suggested to the BPOs and cab companies that they form a central database where all drivers will have to register,” the police officer said. “The database can maintain a list of challans issued to each driver in that pool and we are ready to coordinate to ensure that it acts as a deterrent.”

Most drivers,the officer said,“conveniently submit the car’s papers” when issued a challan slip for violating rules — “then the onus falls on the owners to get the vehicle released.

But Pramela Kundaliya,owner of SK Travels,said rather than the police it is the transport companies that conduct most of the security-related checks. “Police verification is a mere formality,which they (cops) do once they are paid Rs 100. But we check all records,verify why a driver left his previous employer and such background checks,” Kundaliya said. “We also check the car papers daily. If found giving lift to passengers,we issue warning to our drivers and if found repeating the mistake,we terminate their services.”

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