Brace for higher cab fares and longer waits on Tuesday as drivers’ of online cab aggregators Ola and Uber are going to start round two of their protest.
Though a one-day strike, the protest could severely hit the private transport service sector in Delhi-NCR as this time even the rivals of Ola-Uber drivers, kaali-peeli taxi operators, have joined hands.
While most taxi and autorickshaw drivers, of an estimated 1-5 lakh app-based taxis in Delhi-NCR, have decided not to take out their vehicles on April 18, they also plan to do a protest march to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence in Civil Lines from the Majnu Ka Tila Gurudwara. The drivers have renewed the stir as they feel their demands have fallen on deaf ears — “neither the companies nor the Delhi government has done anything,” they claim.
In February, Delhi-NCR got its first taste of a strike by Ola-Uber drivers against the cab aggregator companies, which impacted lakhs of commuters for almost two weeks. Leading the fresh protest is the same drivers’ union, Sarvodaya Driver Association of Delhi (SDAD), which had organised the previous strike.
“Nothing has changed since our February protest. Drivers continue to slog for 16-18 hours daily and still are barely earning enough to eat and pay the car EMIs. Fares of registered city taxis can only be fixed by the government, whereas, Ola-Uber still continue to levy their own rates,” said Kamaljeet Gill, president SDAD.
Foes turn friends
Tuesday’s strike has received support from at least a dozen transport unions active in the capital.
Until now, drivers of kaali-peeli taxis, those with All India Taxi Permit (AITP) and auto-rickshaws had always protested against the Ola-Uber drivers for eating away into their earnings as the app-based cab service gained huge popularity.
“Drivers of Ola-Uber are suffering because they are working like bonded labourers and are earning pittance. Like we have always been demanding, they also want meters installed in cabs and rates to be fixed by the government. Our issues have now become common and so we will fight together,” said Sanjay Samrat of Delhi Taxi Tourist Transporters Association.
He added that the app-based cab companies are flouting not only laws but also directions issued by the Supreme Court. “Cabs are illegally being run on shared basis. Ola and Uber are giving away cars with AIT permits to drivers on a small down payment of R 35,000. As per the law, vehicles with these permits cannot be run on point-to-point basis,” Samrat said.