The Regional Transport Office (RTO) is in a fix over the issue of legality of taxi aggregation services which are facing increasing opposition from established public transport players like auto rickshaw owners. Pune regional transport officer Jitendra Patil has in fact thrown his hands up saying that there are no guidelines from the state transport department on how to regulate taxi aggregators and deal with violations by them since they are not covered under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
Patil, in a letter to Aam Aadmi Party Auto Rickshaw Union, which had raised the issue with him last week, said, “RTO officers often takes action against owners, drivers and license holders of vehicles violating rules. But since taxi aggregator companies doesn’t come under such category, we have no option but to seek guidance from the state transport department on how to deal with them. We have also let the department know about the feeling of injustice that rickshaw drivers and owners are getting due to this.”
Patil also clarified that Ola or Uber have not been given any licence or permit to provide service in Pune city. The Union has demanded that the RTO develop a mobile application on the lines Ola and Uber so that they can compete with these private service providers which, it alleged, was taking away their livelihood. Officials, however, have expressed their inability to do so.
Shrikant Acharya of AAP said that it was pointed out by Union representatives that app-based private taxi operators are taking away a major chunk of the business from auto rickshaw operators and it is affecting their livelihood. He also alleged that portal-based taxi aggregator services have no legal sanction.
Anand Ankush of the Union said, “RTO officials can’t shrug off the responsibility by saying that they have sought directives from higher authorities. If these aggregator firms are violating the Motor Vehicles Act, then officials should take action against them. What are they waiting for?”