Cabbies fleece Valley denizens with impunity

Kathmandu, September 19:

If the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) is to be believed, 4,500 out of 7,000 cabs plying the Kathmandu Valley have recalibrated their meters to bring them in line with the 35 per cent hike in short-distance transport fares in July. The truth is: Some cabs have been charging as much as 3-4 times the normal fare following the July hike in petroleum products.

Shweta Rathi of Thapathali said she is routinely forced to cough up more than the actual fare. When I complain, cabbies shout at me and tell me to keep myself updated with new rates.

Similar is the plight of Rabi Tamang. Recently, was made to pay Rs 600 for a taxi ride from the Tribhuvan International Airport to Balaju. “This has happened to me more than once. Taxi meters have been tampered,” he said. Tamang vented ire on the government for not paying heed to woes of the commoners. “There is an urgent need of a scientific mechanism, with strict rules to curb meter tampering.”

The NBSM has begun recalibrating taximeters, said Mohan Koirala, taxi tempo unit chief at the NSBM. He said many cabbies were unaware of the need to recalibrate metres.

“The NBSM can only recalibrate 80 meters a day. It will take a few more months to adjust meters of all taxis operating in the Valley,” Koirala said.

“We have not been able to monitor taxis for meter tampering as we are busy adjusting meters,” he said. Drivers will be penalised if they are found to be tampering with meters.

“But I have not penalised a single driver since my appointment three months ago.”

According to Dr Sita Ram Joshi, chief metrologist at the NBSM, they have not been able to coordinate with traffic police and transporters owing to the lack of manpower.

Shiv Rai, a cabbie from Dakshin Dhoka, said only 25 per cent of taxis were fleecing passengers. The unscrupulous ones manipulate their meters by using earthling wires, the practice which often goes unnoticed, said Rai.

Ram Kumar Shrestha, a cabbie from Kalikasthan, said before the adjustment of his taxi meter, passengers were unwilling to pay the fares even when authorised copies of revised taxi fares were produced. “I have now adjusted my meter and passengers are willing to pay the fare that is displayed on the meter,” Shrestha said.

The adjusted taxi fares are: Rs 10 at flag down and Rs 4.8 for every 200 meter thereafter.