Yet again, oppressive taxi fares disgust travellers across Nagaland
One driver even asked INR 25,000 for a hire
Kohima, Sep 5. (EMN):
While taxi fares have been reduced (at least on paper) to INR 500 per head from the extortion-like fares of INR 1500 to travel to Dimapur from Kohima or vice-versa, the burden of the common Nagaland citizen has yet to see respite from oppressive public transport services.
Eastern Mirror recently reported that taxi drivers were charging exorbitant fares from passengers travelling between Kohima and Dimapur since the lockdown began. Besides the taxis, another group of public transporters are the auto rickshaws in Dimapur who are starting to rub the public the wrong way again with their extremely exorbitant fares.
The taxi fare of INR 250 for travelling between Kohima and Dimapur per head has been ‘temporarily enhanced’ to INR 500 at present.
As this newspaper reached out to citizens from more districts, it was learned that many taxis have been charging excessive fares from passengers even during the lockdown, which has led to irate murmurings from the public besides affecting them economically.
It may be mentioned that only the administration of Wokha district has issued a notification stating fixed fares of commercial taxis, on September 2, so far.
Unscrupulous drivers enjoy free hand
Since the Covid-19 pandemic forced a nationwide lockdown, many taxi travellers have been enduring the brunt of the restrictions. But adding to that trouble, they have also been paying, although reluctantly, unreasonably high taxi fares to drivers when travelling from their districts to Dimapur.
This newspaper reached out to some persons residing in various places of the state to learn how taxi drivers were freely deciding fares unchecked.
Taking undue advantage of the lockdown, taxi drivers would charge fares for round trips for every trip to Dimapur from any other district.
As if the public have the liability to also pay for collateral expenses, the drivers argue that once they drop their passengers to their destinations, ‘They can’t return back to their place with any passenger’!
According to a returnee who recently came to Mon district, four-seat taxis have been charging INR 7,000 to INR 8,000 from one or two passengers to travel between Dimapur and Naginimora in Mon district!
Earlier, even when to-capacity passengers were travelling during normal times, the total fare was just about INR 4,000. He spoke about how he had to pay INR 8,000 along with a friend from Nagaland check post at Tizit to reach Naginimora, this after being discharged recently from a quarantine centre in Mon.
In Nagaland, the Maruti Alto and Tata Sumo are used for commercial passenger transport. The Alto usually carries four passengers while the Tata Sumo carries ten passengers.
Currently, only two passengers are allowed to travel via Alto Maruti, which otherwise would usually carry four passengers, while four to five passengers are transported on a Tata Sumo, which carry ten passengers. The sitting limitation of passengers has been necessitated by the Standard Operating Procedures for commercial taxis.
Fares only for services, not collateral expenses of drivers
It is a practice that if a single person hires the whole vehicle, they are required to pay the fares for all the empty seats. However during the lockdown, they are forced to pay excessive amounts of money for collateral and auxiliary reasons such as lockdown or returning without passengers on the return-trip too.
Sources from Wokha informed this newspaper that during the lockdown, taxi drivers had been charging INR 10,000 from passengers travelling to Dimapur from Wokha town or vice-versa via Tata Sumo.
“They take rental/hire even if it’s a single passenger. They usually charge them 10,000 for Wokha to Dimapur,” sources informed. During the pre-lockdown period, the fare for each passenger was INR 450 per head to travel to Nagaland’s commercial hub.
He also informed that many commercial vehicles meant for carrying essential commodities have been charging self-administrated rates during the lockdown.
A lady from Phek district informed that drivers from her place were charging INR 1,400 per passenger to drop them to Dimapur from Phek town against the normal fare of INR 700 before the lockdown. She said drivers are carrying five passengers.
More than the average Naga monthly salary
Shockingly, in another case, a driver had demanded INR 25,000 as hiring fare for his taxi, from a lady whose family had an urgent need to go to Phek from Dimapur to apply for her father’s pension.
“My father passed away during the lockdown. So, we haven’t been able to apply for the pension yet since all his documents are at Phek,” she said.
“We are not even getting salary now. So, it’s very hard for us to spend so much amount (of money). We can’t afford to spend so much just in travelling,” she added.
Another source from Noklak district informed that no taxis are available to go to Dimapur or Kohima. Due to that reason, people who need to travel for emergency purposes need to pay huge amounts of money by hiring private vehicles from their own places.
Another returnee informed this newspaper that cab drivers are fixing INR 4,000 as fare for a single passenger from Shamator in Tuensang district to Dimapur against the pre-lockdown fares.
Further, taxi fares have increased to INR 2500 from INR 600 per passenger who travel to Dimapur from Sumo counter in Longleng district, said a source from the district.
Another person also informed this newspaper about how her friend travelled to Mokokchung by paying INR 3,000 from Dimapur, while another friend of hers reached Zunheboto with INR 2,500 in a taxi recently.
The normal fare for each Mokokchung passenger is INR 550 while approximately INR 600 per passenger has been fixed for Zunheboto from Dimapur and vice versa.
As usual, while the local authorities and community organisations of the districts have failed to check the extortion-like taxi fares, common citizens continue to take bad hits.