Cop guidelines to curb taxi refusal

Police have asked taxi owners to maintain a database of their drivers and a daily register for each driver, a move aimed at curbing taxi refusal.

The traffic department has set January 31 as the deadline for implementing the guidelines but no penal measure can be taken for flouting them.

"Since a taxi is driven by several drivers, it becomes difficult to identify and catch an errant driver even if the complainant gives us the registration number of the vehicle. Add to it the fact that most drivers have more than one licence each. If the database is ready, we can easily nab the offender," said Dilip Adak, the deputy commissioner of police, traffic department.

The police directive states the database will have to contain each driver's name, address, driving licence number, voter identity card number, PAN card number and photographs. The owners will also have to keep photocopies of the documents.

"After verifying the papers the owners have to give authorisation letters to the drivers, which they should carry while at the wheel. The drivers will also have to carry photocopies of PAN cards and voter identity cards," said an officer.

The guidelines also ask the owners to maintain registers which the drivers have to sign everyday before setting out with vehicles. "We will conduct surprise checks at all taxi stands and major crossings to see if the drivers are carrying the authorisation letter and the documents," said deputy commissioner Adak.

He, however, pointed out that action could not be taken against the drivers who do not carry the letter and the documents as law does not have any such provision.

"The measures will benefit the drivers and the owners as those will help us identify errant drivers fast and minimise chances of harassment of others. We will try to make the owners aware of the need to follow the guidelines," said another officer.

Quicker identification of errant drivers will also add teeth to the police drive against taxi refusal. Such drives end in failure as each taxi is driven by more than one driver and most drivers carry more than one licence each. "We often get lost in the maze while looking for the guilty," said an officer.

The taxi unions have welcomed the police move and have agreed to implement the directives. "At a recent meeting between the seven taxi unions and the transport minister, we have agreed to abide by the directives," said Bimal Guha, of the Bengal Taxi Association that has over 18,000 members.

"If we receive complaints against a driver three or four times, we can cancel his membership. And once membership is cancelled for misconduct, the driver cannot register himself with any other union for a certain period," said Tarak Nath Bari, of the Calcutta Taxi Association.

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