COIMBATORE: Taxi and auto drivers in the city said the imposition of CrPC Section 144, which would be in force until April 1 morning, would hit their earnings hard. Pointing out that they won’t be able to pay EMI on their vehicle loans, they urged the state government to help them by directing banks and other non-banking financial companies to offer them moratorium on loan repayment till the situation improved.
There are more than 3,000 taxi drivers in the city, some of who have tied up with app-based cabs. According to them, their woes started on Sunday when the entire nation shut itself down for Janata curfew. Since then, the number of rides has come down by 10 times drastically, they said.
T G Sivanath, a taxi driver, said earlier he used to earn anywhere between Rs 1,800 and Rs 2,500 a day. “But since the curfew, my earnings have plunged to Rs 200 a day. There is no hope of getting any rides in the coming days as Section 144 would be in place.” The state, in its notification on Section 144, has exempted only those taxis running to and from airports, hospitals, and residences. In this scenario, Sivanath said, they won’t get long rides.
P Babu, another taxi driver, said earlier he used to get 17 to 18 trips in the city in 10 hours. He had been roaming around the city idly in his vehicle for the past three days, barring occasional trips. “I usually shell out Rs 500 daily on fuel. But in the past three days I have spent only Rs 300 and that too I couldn’t recover from the trips,” he said.
The drivers said they had mailed the cab aggregator firms, which replied that they were mulling ways to help the former. They appealed to the state to take cognizance of their situation and direct banks and non-banking financial entities to give them moratorium on loan repayments until everything returned to normalcy.
Similarly, there are around 13,000 auto-rickshaws in the city and another 2,000 in rural parts. PK Sugumaran, general secretary, Coimbatore District Auto Workers’ Union, said, “Their livelihood is also at stake. It is only fair that the state announces a moratorium on loan repayment.”