Driver unrest continues in Delhi, govt tells Ola, Uber to find a solution
With multiple reports coming in about drivers being harassed and their cars being vandalised from across the Capital, the Delhi government convened a meeting between representatives of Rajdhani Tourist Driver Union and managements of Ola and Uberdelhi Updated: Feb 14, 2017 23:17 IST
The Ola and Uber drivers’ strike in the national Capital eased up a bit on Tuesday as several agitators put their placards aside and hit the roads in their cabs.
With multiple reports coming in about drivers being harassed and their cars being vandalised from across the Capital, the Delhi government convened a meeting between representatives of Rajdhani Tourist Driver Union and managements of Ola and Uber.
However, the meeting did not include anybody from the union leading the strike which has entered the sixth day. “None of us knew about this meeting. We were not invited,” said Ravi Rathore, vice-president of Sarvodaya Driver Association of Delhi (SDAD), the union that mobilised cab drivers for the protest.
“It was firmly conveyed to the companies to look into the problems faced by drivers, including the demand for a reasonable compensation with regard to the incurred cost of operation and other welfare measures for the drivers. A majority of drivers are not in favour of any strike but some external anti-social elements are illegally preventing the app-based drivers from plying their vehicles,” the government said in a statement. Transport minister Satyendar Jain was not present in the meeting and Kailash Gahlot, member of the State Transport Authority (STA), held talks with both the parties.
Jain directed the department officials to inform the Delhi Police about the exact locations where miscreants are indulging in vandalism and complaints should be lodged in concerned police stations for registration of criminal cases against such miscreants.
Mahender Singh, a driver with Uber, was stopped by a group of drivers in Ghaziabad when he was on his way to pick a passenger. “They broke the windows and the windshield of my car and even punctured the tyres. I am in shock,” he said.
The situation is far from normal as the waiting time continued to be nearly 20-25 minutes in areas where commuters usually had the vehicles reaching them in two to five minutes. With very few Ola and Uber cabs plying on roads, people were forced to pay almost twice the regular rate on Tuesday due to the high demand.
A handful of drivers, who think that some of the demands that are being raised such as the increased commission rates, are legitimate, however, have chosen not to participate in the strike, as they cannot afford to not work.
“If we waste time in sitting on strike, when will we earn? How will we eat?” asked Raju, a driver, who drives for both Ola and Uber.
However, they only work in the early hours of the morning or late in the evening to avoid detection by protestors, but their earnings have taken a hit.
“Earlier, I used to work from 4am till 9pm, and make R3,000-4,000. Now, I work only in the morning. If they damage my car, the extra cost will destroy me,” said Ajmer, an Uber driver.
Drivers have gotten creative to avoid protestors, with some even altering their number plates. “If they see ‘RT’ on the number plate, they will immediately recognise I am driving an Uber or Ola. So I have covered that up, and replaced it with a C,” said an Ola/Uber driver.
“Offering a seamless mobility experience has always been our priority. We are concerned about the inconvenience being caused to some of our customers across Delhi-NCR over the last few days. We’d like to reassure them that we are working closely with the local authorities to resolve the issue at the earliest,” said an Ola spokesperson.
Commuters who do not want to wait long for their cabs, and do not wish to pay more, have to rely on alternatives like the Metro until the strike is completely called off.