Passengers rarely report taxi drivers for overcharging, traffic police sayMost cabbies in Kathmandu refuse to go by taximeters and set their own fares.
Kedar Dangal, 36, of Mulpani was looking for a taxi to take his 17-year-old daughter to a hospital-based at Baneshwor. After waiting for nearly half an hour, a taxi approached them.
When Dangal asked the driver to take him and his daughter to Baneshwor, the cabbie demanded Rs 1,000. Dangal then proposed paying as per the taximeter, but the driver refused to oblige.
“If you want to go then pay Rs 1,000 otherwise wait for another taxi,” the taxi driver told Dangal.
Since his daughter was not well, Dangal took the taxi and paid the amount demanded by the cabbie. Despite being overcharged, he never thought of filing a complaint with the traffic police.
“I know I was overcharged by the taxi driver, but there was no other option available at the time. Complaining to the traffic police would have been worse as I simply didn’t have the time,” Dangal told the Post.
Taxi drivers in Kathmandu continue to fleece passengers by refusing to turn on the fare meters. The traffic police, meanwhile, seems unable to control the rampant fraud in taxi business.
The traffic police book up to 30 taxi drivers daily for overcharging passengers. But the cabbies in Kathmandu seem unaffected and undeterred by law enforcement.
Superintendent Rabi Kumar Poudel, spokesperson at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD), says this is because most passengers enable the fraud cabbies by agreeing to travel on quoted fares and not the fares determined by taximeters.
Then there are passengers who do not file complaints against errant cabbies.
“They’d rather bargain the fare than file a complaint with the traffic police,” Poudel told the Post.
During the Dashain holidays, the MTPD booked 475 cabbies for violating fare rules, while a total of 1,304 cabbies were charged for various offences in the last three months of this fiscal year 2019/20.
“Cabbies who refuse to turn on fare-meters are fined from Rs 500 to Rs 3,000. For repeat offenders, the fine is five times more and the possible suspension of licence,” said Poudel. “If passengers, without any hesitation, start to file complaints, it would help a lot to curb fraud cabbies.”
According to the MTPD, anyone could contact the traffic police through the hotline (103), SMS (9851295100), or the MTPD’s Facebook page to file a complaint against dishonest taxi drivers.
According to Lopsang Tamang, a cab driver, many passengers do not prefer going on taximeter as the destination prices are not fixed. Before travelling anywhere, a majority of the passengers first fix the price and only then travel, he added.
The data provided by MTPD shows that in the fiscal year 2018/19, a total of 12,749 cabbies were booked for refusing to run fare-meters. In the fiscal year 2017/18, the number of lowered to 8,120.
“Traffic personnel, both in uniform and civvies, have been deployed in busy areas, even during the festive season, to monitor rule violations,” said Senior Superintendent of Police Bhim Prasad Dhakal at the MTPD.
“Traffic police have been keeping a close watch on taxis in the daytime and at night, whenever they try to fleece passengers, taking advantage of emergencies and non-availability of public vehicles,” Dhakal added.