Unfair fare woes of cab riders

Kathmandu, March 23:

Shanta Aryal, a housewife, paid Rs 120 — one-and-a-half times more than the genuine fare — to a taxi driver for going from from Bagbazar to Bishal Nagar. The distance between Bagabzar and Bishalnagar is almost 4 km. As per the new fare, it should have cost only Rs 96.

“The taxi driver asked me for Rs 150 at first,” she said. She haggled with

him and they finally settled for Rs 120. “He asked for an additional amount as returning charge,” she said adding that the driver argued that he would have to come back without passenger. Such incidents are usual in areas where there is little traffic.

“Taxi drivers do not refuse to take passengers but they ask for extra fare,” said Hom Nath Khatiwada, an investigation officer at the Department of Transport Management (DoTM).

The government has set up a new ‘scientific’ fare for taxis also. The flag down charge, according to the new taxi fare, is Rs 10 and Rs 4.40 every 200 metres or Rs 21.51 per km. Nepal Meter Taxi Association (NMTA) has also issued circulars to taxi entrepreneurs advising them to charge new fare that is at Rs 22 per km.

However, the drivers charge arbitarily though there is marginal difference in new and old rates. According to the previous rate, the flag down charge was Rs 10 and Rs 4.32 per 200 metres or Rs 21.65 per km. “There is nothing new in the new ‘scientific’ fare. Practically, there is no difference,” taxi driver Kamal Tamang said.

“The new fare of Rs Rs 21.51 per km and the old one of Rs 21.65 per km both correspond to Rs 22 in practice,” most of the taxi drivers said.

However, the taxi drivers have been charging Rs 4.80 per 200 metres — arbiterily — since June 25, 2008.

Kamal, along with other taxi drivers, has not put on display a fare conversion table for the public. “In the context of consumer rights, all taxi drivers should display fare conversion table in their taxies,” the association has said. But the drivers said that they will display the conversion table once they get it from their association.

According to them, the main problem in taxies is not the fare but meter tampering. “Taxi drivers cheat people by tampering with their meters,”the driver of a taxi, no Ba1Ja 1269, said. Most of the taxi drivers pointed out that meter tampering is a big problem but each of them denied that their meters were tampered with.

DoTM is also aware of the meter tampering problem. However, checking the meter is the duty of the Department of Standards and

Measurement (DoSM).