Taken for a ride

Around 6,000 cabs are in operation in Kathmandu Valley. But passengers must know that no two taxis charge the same fare. Some drivers continue to use the old meters but have a list of proportional charges ready at hand. Others have managed to install new meters and are charging the hiked fares. Still others do not even use their meters, but charge up to 4-5 times normal fares.

Passengers, understandably, are all at sea. Which set of fares is authentic? And are the cab drivers who purportedly get their petrol through the black market or “after hours of lining up outside the pumps” free to fix their own rates? The Bureau of Standards and Metrology, the government body that fixes and adjusts the fares of public transportation, in response to the outpouring of public indignation, has yet again come out with the catchall deficiency-of-funds-and-manpower cliché, a copout if there ever was one. Even if that were true, it is surely not asking much of the bureau to inform the public about the real state of affairs. Which of the lists the cabbies keep should the passengers follow? The ones issued by the bureau or those prepared by the various taxi and transport organisations? Does the fare list need a seal of approval? If yes, there aren’t many with the stamp of approval. Surely, the bureau is aware of this common fact. Is anyone in Balaju listening?