Fearing a crackdown by Delhi Traffic Police, cabs associated with application-based cab services such as Uber, Ola and Taxi For Sure have stopped taking bookings from Delhi. However, since the ban is not effective in NCR towns such as Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad, drivers now accept bookings only from the NCR towns and avoid coming to central Delhi.
With the Delhi government determined to step up pressure on the companies after they defied a state-wide ban for over six months, police officers have been using the taxi-hailing apps to book vehicles and impound them as they arrive.
The taxi companies were banned in December, after a driver contracted with Uber was charged with raping a woman passenger in a case that sparked national uproar and highlighted the absence of screening of drivers by the US-based company. Uber resumed operations in January even though the ban remained in place.
“We have to do something as we have purchased vehicles on EMIs and we cannot afford to sit idle. We are not taking bookings from Delhi during the day time as police are fining Rs 10,000 and impounding vehicles for 10 days. But we take bookings from NCR towns as there is no such ban there,” said a driver associated with Uber.
Traffic police had fined 450 vehicles until Friday, sparking fear among drivers in Delhi.
“When we take bookings from NCR, we ask the customer to not tell Delhi traffic police that they have booked the cab through an app. This way, police will not have any proof to issue a challan. Also, drivers come out usually after 8 pm when presence of traffic police is less,” said another driver associated with Ola.
The two companies together have over 20,000 cabs associated with them. After some cabs were impounded, drivers stopped taking bookings, leaving passengers stranded.
Uber has also said that livelihoods of many drivers have been adversely affected and thousands of commuters are unable to get convenient and reliable transportation around the NCR region.
“We humbly appeal to the government to resume constructive dialogue towards an amicable resolution of this issue; moving towards a safer Delhi which puts the interest of its citizens first,” said a statement from Uber.
Transport minister Gopal Rai had alleged that application based taxi services are misleading the drivers.
In a meeting on May 28, the Delhi government told app-based taxi services their pending applications for fresh licenses would be considered if they agreed to adhere to the existing ban, furnish data on drivers and vehicles within a week, and give an undertaking that they will comply with safety regulations, particularly for women commuters.
(With agency inputs)