In the first meeting of a task force constituted by the state government to resolve issues of road transportation, taxi associations on Friday have demanded that they should be allowed to carry a minimum of three passengers, and four in case of a family. Private bus operators, meanwhile, sought an exemption in road taxes and toll fees to help them cope with the losses incurred due to the three-month-long lockdown.
The two-hour meeting of the task force, headed by state Transport Minister Anil Parab, was held through video-conference and attended by representatives from all road passenger transportation sectors including truckers’ association, buses, autos, cabs and app-based aggregators.
An official present in the meeting said sub-committees would soon be formed under the deputy transport commissioners to hear the demands raised by different associations. These committees will submit their report to the Chief Minister over the next one week and a decision will be taken subsequently.
After the meet, Parab said all demands of tax exemptions and extensions on EMIs were being considered. According to officials, the government was also considering the demand to waive road taxes for private operators for a year.
Union leader for Mumbai Taximen’s Association, A L Quadros said, “We have urged the government to cancel all e-challans issued to around 2,000 drivers since June 5 and increase their carrying capacity to three passengers. The taxi fares should also be raised to Rs 25 that has been due since March 2019.”
Under the ‘Mission Begin Again, rolled out on June 8, the government had restricted each taxi to carry only two passengers, both essential workers, to ensure social distancing was maintained during the pandemic.
Quadros claimed as the government has allowed both autorickshaws and taxis to carry two passengers, the latter were losing their business to autos.
Auto unions represented by Shashank Rao, meanwhile, has urged the government to provide a financial aid of Rs 10,000 to auto drivers per month. He has also asked the government to release all the auto rickshaws that were detained by traffic police during the lockdown.
Harsh Kotak, general secretary of Mumbai Bus Malak Sanghatna, said, “We have raised our demands of a tax waiver for vehicles that have not run during the lockdown and sought an extension on insurance period and bank EMIs. We are hopeful that the government will consider out demands and provide relief in the coming days.”
Private buses pay anywhere up to Rs 4 lakh as an annual road tax for AC buses, and nearly Rs 3 lakh by non-AC buses. With no business during the lockdown, private operators have asked this tax to be waived for at least a year and toll taxes by six months.