Want a porter? Punch numbers for quick service

Want a porter? Punch numbers for quick service – Tatanagar porters reach tech junction, use mobile phones to build rapport with customers

Jamshedpur, Jan. 25: Iqbal Khan (Amitabh Bachchan) in Coolie had had to struggle for a living — be it attending to passengers or spearheading movements for his rights.

But that was 1983. Two decades later, the new-age porters at Tatanagar railway station have hi-tech methods to keep their business going.

They are now busy building better rapport with the customers with the help of their cell phones. The porters have started distributing their numbers to customers and are focusing on better customer service.

Om Prakash, a porter at the Tatanagar railway station, has been working for the past 13 years. The profession had not been lucrative enough for him till a year ago. Then, he bought a mobile phone.

Today, he believes that his earning has multiplied and a few passengers
recognise him for his “ good customer service”.

“Whenever I attend to a passenger, I give them my number. This has helped me gain a few customers, a decent number of them being businessmen and shopkeepers.
The passengers give me a call sometime before the train is to arrive with their train name so that I can be ready to carry their luggage. A few people also call me to ask for information about the train timings, which I do in order to maintain the rapport,” said Om Prakash.

The Tatanagar railway station has a dearth of porters.

After the railways started promoting the porters to the post of gangmen, about 27 of them have remained so far in a span of a year. There are a number of people who are not registered porters but have started working as one to make a living.

“About 110 porters in the past six months have been promoted and we are just 27 now. One will no more find the crowd of porters that used to crowd compartments on the arrival of trains. We are too few in numbers. Also some people from outside have also started carrying luggage as a way of earning. Competition for us has become tough so we had to look for our own ways of survival,” said Ma Canker, another porter at the station.

Hence the new tech-savvy avatar of porters.

Maintaining a mobile was difficult initially, said some, but with lower call
charges, it has become easier for the porters.

“Socha nahi tha ki itna accha hoga (I did not think it will yield such good
results). It was a liability first but now I find a Rs 1,000-1,500 rise in my
monthly income. Now we are just a call away,” said Om Prakash.

“The world is developing so why not the porters? I think it is an excellent idea and it’s good that uneducated people like porters are also trying hi-tech methods for survival,” said Amarjeet Arora, a local businessman at the station.

Inspired by these four porters, others are also planning to invest in the gadget that is sure to bring them better income. “Once I have the money, I will buy a cell phone so that even we can be a call away from the passengers, especially at night,” said one Gajadhar Pandey.