Pak Chronicle Report
Despite clear provisions of Motor Vehicle Ordinance regarding installation of fare meters in motor rickshaws the fare meters have ceased to exist in Karachi due to inattentiveness of the authorities concerned especially the Government of Sindh (GoS).
Fewer two-stroke rickshaws are equipped with fare meters which are for exhibition only and more than 100,000 CNG four-stroke rickshaws are plying on roads without installation of fare meters. Although some manufactures of these rickshaws also provide digital fare meters but as installation is not compulsory so the drivers bother to have them installed.
This is learnt that government did not set fare rate of motor rickshaw since 2002 which was Rs. 9 per kilometer. A lot of things have already changed since then. Online taxi services are available to citizens of Karachi but rickshaws are still one of major means of transportation for the citizens who want to travel from one part of the city to other. Karachi’s public transport system seems in very pathetic condition on account of several accounts. Dirty and old buses and minibuses need immediate repairing and above all they are really very short in numbers when compared to the population of the city.
This is also learnt that traffic police don’t issuing Challans to rickshaw drivers if they haven’t installed fare meters in their rickshaws. Fare meters have become obsolete and no more required both by authorities concerned and rickshaw drivers.
An official of traffic police on the condition of anonymity told this scribe that the traffic police don’t take action against rickshaw drivers if they haven’t installed fare meters in their rickshaws. He said challans may be issued these days on any traffic violation but issuance of challan over non-installation of fare metre is rare thing to be observed.
On the other hand, under provisions of section 53 of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1965 read with section 124 of the Motor Vehicle Rules, 1969 the installation of fare meters in motor rickshaws is mandatory.
During April 2005 The Sindh High Court, Hyderabad circuit bench, had directed the secretary of Regional Transport Authority to issue orders for installing fare meters in motor rickshaws in the city under the motor vehicle ordinance.
The transport department, Government of Sindh (GoS) and the traffic police have turned blind eye toward this issue. The law makers seem least interested to facilitate the commuters with fixed fare rate when they (citizens) opt to travel through this mini-public-transport. Non-installation of fare meters is not limited to rickshaws only taxis are also operated in the city without this ‘luxurious item.’
As fare meters are not installed so drivers of these vehicles charge from the commuters any fare they like. Often bargain process is initiated when someone wants to hire rickshaw for commuting. Fares of these rickshaws and taxis work on demand and supply pattern. Generally these are the commuters who are at the receiving end during bargaining of fares with the drivers.
According to rules and regulations no verification and registration of motor rickshaw is possible unless it is equipped with fare meters. When inquired most of the rickshaw drivers informed this scribe that they had to purchase digital fare meters from some shops of Garden against payment Rs. 4,000 or more to get their CNG rickshaw registered and verified.
They said afterward they immediately remove the metre as it is of no use these days.
There are some showrooms of CNG rickshaw who sell the rickshaws with fare metre installed in it otherwise one can purchase it from three shops situated in Garden just opposite of a traffic police picket.
These shopkeepers have old business of selling fare metres for the past many years. In old days they used to sell gearwheel fare metres and now they are dealing in digital metres.
Long ago the mechanics of fare metres of rickshaws and taxis have left their profession for goods as there was no demand of their skills.
The two-stroke rickshaw drivers used to purchase Japanese Made gearwheel fare metre against payment of at least Rs5000. In case of some trouble with the metre there were mechanics especially at Patel Para who used to get them in order.
However, all these things have become part of history with the passage of time and one wonders the new era is better or the one which has already passed.