Autorickshaws begin plying outside Chennai

One-passenger rule limits patronage

Autorickshaws and cycle rickshaws resumed operations across Tamil Nadu, except in Chennai and containment zones, after nearly two months on Saturday, following relaxations in lockdown norms.

However, patronage was largely limited on day one and there were complaints of drivers fleecing customers.

With the government mandating that only one passenger can travel in an auto at a time, there were demands from autorickshaw unions to at least permit two passengers.

In some places, autorickshaws carried more than one passenger, disregarding the norms.

Protest held

Members of the Madurai City Autorickshaw Drivers’ Association staged a demonstration in front of the District Collectorate, demanding that two passengers be permitted to ride a vehicle.

A. Abbas, vice-president, Tiruchi District Autorickshaw Drivers’ Association, said that some drivers did not leave their homes on Saturday. “Why would a single person hail an auto? Most households have at least one two-wheeler, which they would much rather take. Only two or more people take a ride with us,” he said.

Coimbatore District Association of All Auto Rickshaw Workers’ Union president P.K. Sukumaran said that the union passed resolutions, including demanding that at least two passengers be allowed, compensation of ₹15,000 for drivers and the withdrawal of fines levied on drivers during the lockdown period.

“Only if buses and trains are run and people start moving from one town to another, do we get passengers,” pointed out C. Manikandan, an auto driver at the Virudhunagar old bus stand.

(With inputs from Madurai, Tiruchi and Coimbatore bureaus)

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