As cab drivers continue their strike, Ola, in a bid to mitigate the crisis, announced on Tuesday that its autos will be available at discounted rates.
The cab strike is unlikely to end soon with sources in Ola denying any “negotiation talks” as was reported earlier.
Ola on Tuesday sent messages to users that autos will be available for hire at a flat rate of Rs 29 for the first 4 km, after which commuters will have to pay the government assigned rate of Rs 8 per km per km.
The government charges are higher -- a minimum rate of Rs 25 for the first two kilometres and then Rs 8 per km.
“This was done to provide some relief to our consumers. We always have our drivers’ and consumers’ interests in mind when we announce any new scheme,” said an Ola spokesperson.
Auto drivers who work with Ola seemed pleased with the new policy. “This is good as it not only benefits the customers, but we also make a profit. Ola has said it would pay the difference in fare to us. So we end up getting more rides,” said Dharam Pal Singh, an auto driver affiliated with Ola.
The Ola auto drivers have been promised incentives that will benefit them in the long run. “We get Rs. 350 for every 8 bookings we take. For 10 bookings, we get Rs 500. If we can get 15 bookings in a day, we will get Rs. 900,” explained the auto driver, who has been working with Ola for the past two to three years.
Other auto drivers, in general, had initially claimed the strike had been to their benefit as many were now using autos in the absence of app-based cabs. But they now say they have not seen the kind of benefits they had hoped for, but also maintained that it was not because autos were available on the app.
“We had thought that auto drivers would earn at least Rs 500 more every day because of the strike. But after visiting around 14 auto stands, I have been told that many have only earned Rs 50-100 more than what they usually did. I don’t think this is because of the availability of autos on apps though. People are just not taking as many auto rides,” said Sanjay Chawla, president of the Delhi Pradesh Tripaiya Chalak Sangh.
The Uber and Ola drivers’ strike may continue as sources in Ola denied having held any negotiations with the drivers.
Leaders of the Sarvodaya Driver Association of Delhi (SDAD) had on Monday claimed that representatives of Ola met them to negotiate terms.
“They agreed to withdraw the ₹500 penalty for denial of duty and said they would give mediclaim to drivers. On Tuesday, we will get a written commitment from them,” Ravi Rathore, vice president of the union had said on Monday.
But sources at Ola dismissed these claims as “probably just rumours.” “We are unaware of any such negotiation that has taken place. It is probably just baseless rumours,” they said.