Stand off over taxi, auto fares
Let the Govt step in
A classic case of touningba touba. This is all that more so when the Government is seen to be looking the other way even as the people are being torn apart by the fancy and whims of those who have come under the impression that they can get away with anything. Not said audibly but this is what may be read into the stand off over the fare charged from passengers by transporters. The fare hike is understandable given that the Government had issued Covid advisories such as how many passengers a taxi may transport at one time. But then when the fare is hiked unreasonably then there are bound to be opposition from the people. Yet again it should also be kept in mind that it is not the business of anyone to decide how much private taxis, autos or passenger vehicles should charge. However this bare fact seems to have blown over the head of everyone and what one saw or read about at Churachandpur some days back fits the bill of a place where anyone can do anything. Last heard the district administration stepped in and held a joint meeting with student bodies, which were against the fare hike and had come out with their own version of how much a taxi or an auto should charge, and taxi operators who had also come under the impression that it is within their rights to hike the fare at their fancy and whims, never mind whether the hike is acceptable to the people or not. It stands that fuel price has been rising alarmingly in the last couple of days and as recent as February 3, 2021, one litre of diesel at Imphal West cost Rs 80.24 while for petrol it was Rs 90.34. It is also the same at Imphal East with the difference a matter of some paise. However, it should stand that whatever the rate of fuel, the rate to be charged from the passengers should be fixed by the Government. This is why there is a Government in place and a Transport Department.
It should also be kept in mind that transporters, taxi operators or those driving a taxi do so to earn a living. Expecting them to run their service without any profit would be farcical. They do need to make a profit from the service they are rendering and this is a point that should be acknowledged by everyone. At the same time it can also be questioned whether all the taxi operators or auto drivers actually follow the limit of passengers they can carry as fixed by the Government. On the other hand it should also be accepted that student organisations and civil society organisations are pressure groups and on more than one occasion they have been able to highlight issues which are of importance to the public and their stand too should not be dismissed with the wave of the hand. Yet at the same time it should also stand that there is a Government in place and it is the duty of the Government and its agencies to work out the fare of passengers. This is where the Government would need to step in and work out the fare in consultation with all the stakeholders. It should also be remembered that Manipur, like the rest of the world is slowly limping back to normalcy-the New Normal-and to adapt to the new lifestyle there has to be a certain degree of give and take. This along with the hike in the price of fuel should be kept in mind. Auto drivers, taxi operators and transporters have families to feed and children to educate, like anyone else and students too have obligations not to overburden their parents and elders. Perhaps this is where the Government may think of working out a fare structure exclusively for students, which may be lower than the others.