As the rise in the number of active cases in Mumbai doesn't seem to slow down, members of Mumbai's iconic 'Kaali-Peeli' taxi community have initiated a unique campaign drive, urging passengers to not visit red light areas and high-risk zones in the city.
Members of the taxi community stated while the government and the civic body is leaving no stone unturned in the fight against the pandemic, citizens continue to flout norms.
"Once a passenger asks the driver to take him to a red-light district, it's the responsibility of the driver to convince them from not going there because there is a high risk of infection in those areas as distancing norms are flouted," Uday Dalvi, president Maharashtra Vahatuk Sena (MVS) told FPJ. The MVS is a Shiv Sena affiliated representative body of Kaali-Peeli taxis in Mumbai.
Dalvi told, in each taxi stand, banners have been installed highlighting the importance of distancing policies and why one shouldn't be visiting the red light districts amid the pandemic outbreak. Bundles of pamphlets are also being provided to each taxi driver, who is handing it to their passenger at the end of their ride.
"Even after six months of lockdown the awareness among people is not there hence we are trying hard to spread the message of safety. Our business has suffered a lot and in case there's another lockdown we won't survive" Dalvi stated.
When asked, what a driver would do if a passenger who is returning from a red light district would stop a taxi, Dalvi replied, "We have limited our services in the adjoining areas of red light zones in Mumbai. Our drivers are quite smart and they will deal with these situations tactfully,"
The drivers have welcomed the decision of the drive and have stated that people who come out from these areas become carriers unknowingly.
"If someone who is infected gets in my car there's a chance he will infect me and other passengers who will board the car later, if this goes on like this then the pandemic will never stop," said Amir Iqbal, a driver.
Drivers also stated, often the laid back approach of the drivers cost the safety of the drivers.
"Passengers remove their mask as soon as they get inside the taxi and also spit outside despite knowing this is not safe. Henceforth we will hand them the pamphlets" said Shyam Kumar a taxi owner and driver.
"Most of the passengers wear their masks below their nose, if we tell them anything they argue with us instead," said Salim Ali, a taxi driver.