Taxi meter tampering cases on rise in Valley

Kathmandu, January 23:

Lack of awareness among consumers about their rights and regular checking by traffic police have led to an increase in the number of taxi meter tampering cases in the Valley.

A local of Gairidhara, Shaileshwori Sharma, said: “I usually travel from my friend’s house at Kalikasthan to Ghairidhara in a taxi and I am usually charged between Rs 50 to Rs 55.

But recently I had to pay Rs 70 for the same distance ‘without traffic obstruction’. When I asked the driver whether his meter was correct he furiously asked me to pay the fare and leave the taxi. I did as he told because I had no other options.”

Around 7,500 taxis are registered under the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Meteorology (NBSM).

Sita Ram Joshi, chief inspector at the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Meteorology, said that the people “do not complain when they are cheated”.

He said that they “are planning to put eight hoarding boards displaying taxi fares for public awareness”.

The Nepal Bureau of Standards and Meteorology is awaiting official notice about the recent verdict issued by the Supreme Court that has directed taxi drivers to have a printing machine to provide each customer with a printed bill.

Plans are afoot to put hoarding boards at eight different places of the Valley describing taxi fares, Joshi added.

According to Jyoti Baniya, general secretary of the Forum for Consumers’ Rights, the drivers tamper taxi meters by fixing sensor wires in cassette players, sidelights and horns.

SSP Bhisma Prasai of the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division said: “We randomly check taxi meters in every 3-4 months.

If we get complaints against the taxis, we take them to the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Meteorology.”

According to the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Meteorology, 136 taxis were taken to the NBSM and out of them nine were seized for tampering meters between April 14 and December 31, 2006. According to the Standard Weight and Regulations - 2027, NBSM can seize taxi meters, fine them penalty of Rs 2000 and bar them from plying for a certain period.

Krishna Prasad Adhikary, president of the Nepal Meter Taxi Association, said: “Most of the tampering is caused under the influence of some influential people who are there to protect taxi drivers when they are caught.”

“We haven’t come across such complaints till date and the drivers are just being accused,” said Hari Dallakoti, president of the Nepal Taxi Drivers’ Association. “We have a provision to expel such taxi drivers from the association if found guilty.”