Taxis and Tourists: Mumbai

Cabbies rob Nigerian outside Sahar terminal  

TIMES NEWS NETWORK  Mumbai: Two taxi drivers were arrested on Thursday, hours after they robbed a Nigerian traveller outside Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Also, the Sahar police have formed a special squad to deal with harassment by touts and cabbies.
   The accused, Abdul Kalam Khan (22) and Naseeruddin Khan (22), were both from Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh. The police will interrogate them for information on their associates and track record.
   Nigerian national Owalabi Femi landed here around 5.30 am on Thursday by Ethiopian Airlines. This was his first visit to Mumbai and he had planned to fly to Delhi to visit his son-in-law’s place.
   Femi stepped out of the airport to take a cab to the Santa Cruz terminal. At this point, the two accused approached him and bundled him into a cab. They snatched his mobile, US$ 125 and Rs 3,000 before dumping him midway.
   “After Femi lodged a complaint, we sent our teams to find the two drivers. They were nabbed from Sahar with the cash and items. We have also seized the taxi,’’ said senior inspector Dilip Patil.
   The Sahar police’s special squad will comprise five policemen. “We will be particularly strict on cab drivers who harass passengers,’’ said zonal deputy commissioner of police R N Tadvi.
   Officials said the pre-paid system has helped keep a check on touts. The police note down the taxi’s number and the passenger’s name before it leaves. The passenger also pays in advance. “The squad will ensure that people use the pre-paid taxis. Action will be taken against those charging excess fares,’’ said Tadvi.
   One of the five tourist mobile vehicles has been handed over to the Sahar police to monitor the airport.

Taxing times

Many fliers who have hired taxis from the domestic airport told TOI they had been duped by unscrupulous cabbies.
   “I hired a taxi for Parel and the driver charged me Rs 500. When I asked him to show the rate card, the cabbie said he was charging me Rs 150 extra for the luggage,’’ said Avinash Chauhan, a resident of Parel.
   Passengers complain that in the absence of the police and road transport officials monitoring the situation, cabbies and touts catch hold of gullible passengers.
   “The drivers promise passengers that they will go by the meter reading, but the meter itself is tampered,’’ said Sibi Sathyan, who was charged Rs 950 for a journey from the airport to Sanpada. “The driver showed me the night card and duped me,’’ he said. The he went to the airport chowky next day to lodge a complaint. The driver was arrested. TNN

Mumbai Traffic Police : Helmet checks

848 helmetless bikers fined  

Traffic Cops Collect Rs 85,000 During Special Drive Across Mumbai  

TIMES NEWS NETWORK  Mumbai: The traffic wing of the Mumbai police on Friday conducted a special drive against helmetless motorcyclists and booked 848 people for violating the law. The drive was conducted in the island city and the suburbs, officials said. Around Rs 85,000 was collected in fines. 

        “We have been conducting drives regularly since December to curb different traffic offences,’’ deputy commissioner of police S Solunkhe said. Apart from penalising bikers without helmets, the police also registered 59 cases of speeding, 857 cases of motorists jumping traffic signals, 44 cases of vehicles not having Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates, 34 cases of needless honking, 32 cases of parking vehicles in noparking zones and 93 cases of driving while talking on the cellphone.

        Three youngsters, including a female BPO executive, were killed after an unknown vehicle rammed into the bike they were riding on Western Express Highway at Kashimira on Wednesday. Officials said the sheer weight of two pillion riders, instead of one, could have caused the rider to lose his balance. The fact that none of them were wearing a helmet meant that their skulls did not have any protection, officials said, adding that it made death a certainty. 

   The Mumbai traffic police have been consistently lodging cases against two-wheeler riders carrying more than one pillion rider.

     “Around 2,200 cases were lodged, netting a revenue of over Rs 2 lakh for the traffic police, in 2007. Offenders were booked under Section 128 of the Motor Vehicles Act and were fined Rs 100,’’ senior inspector (prosecution) Dayanand Gavas said. Around 3.27 lakh cases of helmetless riding were also registered last year. 

         Police officials said two-wheelers carrying excess people were often seen in the Byculla, J J Marg and Dongri areas of south Mumbai. “Living in Mazgaon, I have seen many five-member families (a couple and their three children) on two-wheelers,’’ Dilnawaz Irani, a resident of the area, said.

People come first in a democracy

Extract from TOI editorial 

Public servants should know people come first in a democracy     

     Who cuts the ribbon? This should be an unimportant question in a republic. But not in ours.      

      Even crucial civic facilities are kept out of bounds for the public until VIPs inaugurate these. However, it appears that the people are no more willing to wait for VIPs.

      On Wednesday, a few citizens inaugurated a flyover in Noida and they were inspired by similar public action in Palam in New Delhi. Interestingly, the authorities in Palam have closed the flyover since then, but Noida officials took the cue from the people and allowed traffic on the road. The latter have also said they would soon open another stretch of the road in the area without any formal inauguration. Similar civic activism has been reported from other parts of the country.
         These may be minor acts of resistance to a political culture that has created the VIP species and endowed it with special privileges, but they indicate a trend. People are tired of making way for the red lights and blue lights that scurry past during peak traffic hours. Why is that judge in a tearing hurry when he, in all probability, will take a decade to write his judgment? Where are the ministers buzzing off when the sarkar is wrapped up in red tape?

     People have had enough of VIPs and now the anger seems to be spilling out, which is not so good either.       Public anger can at some point transform itself into mob fury. 

         Some of these public servants and officials do need the security since the offices they hold make them liable to terrorist attacks. But there’s a distinction between legitimate security and flaunting a VIP status. The latter is what many of our politicians do. They tend to forget that India is not just a parliamentary democracy but a republic as well.

      Every citizen has equal rights in a republic and security privileges given to a few people — because of the special circumstances in which they work — ought not to create new hierarchies in society. Today, the Union government alone provides VIP security cover to around 400 persons!
   As we have argued in these columns, the VIP is a throwback to a feudal era when people were mere subjects of the ruler. Our fetish for VIP inaugurations is reminiscent of the pomp and vanities of feudalism.

     Mature democracies have long done away with such inaugurations unless of course they are path-breaking ventures. Roads and flyovers are part of basic infrastructure, even though decades of shoddy governance make these look like special gifts from the government.

      The real VIP in a democracy is the citizen. The job of the public servant is to ensure that he is not kept waiting.