The auto-drivers in Bangalore are coping with hiked fuel prices and less commuters.
Bangalore: Auto rickshaw drivers drivers in the city find the post lockdown situation no less than an economic crisis.
‘‘With less than 70,000 drivers left in the city out of 1.5 lakhs, the financial status of these drivers doesn’t seem to get better anytime soon,’’ says State President of Autos, Saarathi Shabarinath.
Since 2019, not just Liquified Petroleum Gas(LPG) and other fuel rates have increased but also the cost of living. “Auto rickshaw drivers have to manage expenses in order to repay their loans, which have increased as well,” adds Saarathi.
Mahadeva, an auto rickshaw driver explains how he hasn’t been able to pay interest rates since six months. ‘‘Banks harass us if we are unable to pay interest every month,’’ he added.
The Karnataka government a one time relief fund of providing Rs.5000 each to seven lakh rickshaw drivers out of which only Rs.15000 received the amount, most couldn’t get as they did not have Aadhar cards linked to their bank accounts, tells M Manjunath, President of Adarsha Auto Union. For seven months the drivers had no income source as schools, colleges and workstations were shut, and all were doing WFH, hence even those who received the fund, couldn’t cover their pending expenses.
Adding to the Covid brought grievances, LPG rates have increased by rupees twenty-five. The inflation rate is making these poor drivers distressed as they have to look after their families.
Keeping all this in mind, the auto unions in Bangalore are demanding the Transport Department to increase the fare charges from rupees twenty-five to rupees thirty-six, as they are in dire need of an income increment.
The need for the demand comes from LPG rates being put at Rs 49.85 per km plus the oiling charges which costs around Rs 15 per km plus less commuters.
People on the other hand are still skeptical regarding auto rickshaws and their cleanliness. ‘’I don’t use auto rickshaws as a lot of drivers don’t wear masks and those who do wear it either below the nose or around their neck,’’ says Narjis Zehra, a resident of Bangalore city.
With commuters hesitant in relying on rickshaw sanitation and expenses seeing no pause, auto rickshaw drivers might suffer for long, financially.