Mangaluru: As expected, the brunt of today’s bundh was borne by commuters, most of whom had to wait for long hours at railway stations, bus stands or at the airport, in the absence of most forms of public transport. Many were taken by surprise after stepping out of both the railway stations in town. Jostling mobs, haggling porters and a beeline of auto-rickshaws everything they had heard about Kudla from their friends, was absent. Many passengers who were worried about reaching home after disembarking from trains were in for a pleasant surprise at the Mangalore Central Railway Station.
While every business owners, bus owners, auto-rickshaw owners/drivers are losing money big time during the so called “Bundh ” today in the district, a section of business owners/drivers are minting money by charging exorbitant fares for commuters to reach their desired destinations- I am talking about Taxi owners/drivers who have been taking advantage of this bundh by charging excess fares. While the organizers of the bundh don’t allow auto-rickshaws/buses to ply, then why are they allowing taxis to run their business. Taxi drivers should appreciate that they have been pardoned from this bundh, and as a kind gesture they should also be very nice to the passengers who are seeking their services- and by charging them excess fares they are trying to be ignorant on their part, and also very inhuman.
When our correspondent spoke to some of the passengers at the Central Railway Station who had come from other states and wanted to reach their destination by taxi-a family of 11 who had arrived from Goa wanted to go to Madikeri. One of the family members, Ramesh said, “I, along with my family had come from Goa by train to go to Madikeri, where we have booked a room there. But due to this unexpected bundh here, finding a transport to get there has been very difficult situation. We wanted to hire a taxi from Mangaluru Railway Station but the taxi driver was demanding Rs 18000 to drop us to Coorg. I think that is ridiculous”
“I arrived from Kochi around 7am but there was no bus or auto-only taxis available, but they are charging way too much Even the private cars are demanding exorbitant fares. I have limited means, so I have to wait till I find any other option, or spend the night on the platform. This is real mean and cruel that’s happening to travelers from out of town”. In the meantime, a taxi driver Ramesh rued that bandhs did not happen more frequently. “There is a bandh after so many days. We need to make the most of it,” . Yeh, right-this taxi driver is full of baloney!
“God knows how such bandhs help anyone. Can you imagine how difficult it is to sit or stand at a railway station for hours with a small baby?” wondered Rakesh Kumar, who was to fly to Bengaluru with his wife and child later today. George Jacob traveled all the way from Kannur to pick up their daughter, who was arriving from Bengaluru. “We also live in Bengaluru and have come Kannur to spend a few days at our native place. There was no trouble reaching Mangaluru railway station, but we were planning to go to Manipal-but without proper transport we are in big trouble. What’s next- we have no idea?”
Not just these few families, many other travelers who had reached Mangaluru from different states and districts without any prior information of the bundh in DK are stranded at the railway station, finding no transport to reach to their destinations. And when they are desperately seeking a mode of transport to reach their homes or other destinations, these taxi drivers are taking advantage of the bundh and charging exorbitant fares bringing a bad name to the district. One taxi driver wanted to charge Rs 1000 for a couple who wanted to get to Kulshekar from Central Railway station- they couple cursing at the driver said, “We would rather walk, than pay Rs 1000 to feed your family. We too have a family and kids to support. Trying to rip off poor people like us will not get you far in your life”. By the way, Where are the organizers of the bundh when such taxi drivers are ripping off commuters? Where are the traffic cops or other law enforcement officials to tackle this kind harassment on the commuters by these taxi drivers?