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Jorethang Taxi driver Association apologises for fare ‘splurge’

JORETHANG : The chief reason for the shortage in public transportation in Jorethang bazaar, especially during this peak tourist season, is due to the recently concluded polls in neighbouring Darjeeling, explains Shankar Chettri, president of the South West Taxi Drivers’ Association. In a press statement, Chettri said most vehicles were taken away for election duty and the few that remained to cater to commuters grabbed the opportunity to charge exorbitant rates. He said the SWTDA strongly condemns the double and even triple rates charged by some drivers in the Jorethang-Gangtok route. The normal fare is Rs140, but some drivers allegedly charged Rs300-500.

At the same time, Chettri tried to make amends by insisting the drivers who had charged high fares were not members of the SWTDA. However, he promised to take stringent action against any association member if the allegations were backed by strong evidence. Chettri also met with mainline drivers and discussed the undue harassment caused to commuters and sought their cooperation on the matter. He said there are 10-12 vehicles under the SWTDA that offer services to Gangtok and Siliguri on a daily basis. The association provides Rs 1,200 per vehicle for fuel as well as food expenses to its drivers. The SWTDA chief said Jorethang is an important junction connecting the south and west districts and lots of people including businessmen come here daily. Chettri appealed to association members to cooperate with their clients in a healthy manner.

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