When offices, schools and colleges open on Monday after the weekend, residents should brace for jams on roads, heavier rush on metro trains and buses, and more arguments with auto drivers over fares as the protest by cab drivers attached to app-based aggregators will enter the fourth day.
Monday might be tough for commuters in Gurgaon as the protesting union, Sarvodaya Driver Association, said all cab services will stop their operations and join the protest on Monday. Besides, autorickshaw unions have also given assurances that they will join the strike, the union said.
The union that has been on strike demanding revision of rates, life insurance for drivers and non-preference for taxis owned by the cab aggregators are mulling ‘extreme’ measures and will continue their strike till their demands are met.
“The officials of UBER and OLA have so far not given any concrete solution or assurances to our problem. Hence, we are extending our strike and stopping all cab services. We are also looking to urge auto drivers to stop their operations from Monday and have received support from some unions. We are also looking to block operations of all commercial vehicles. These measures may force the state governments (Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh) to intervene and provide a quick-fix to our demands,” Kamaljeet Singh, a leader of the Sarvodaya Driver Association, said.
Kamaljeet, however, said the step of prohibiting plying of all commercial vehicles are still being contemplated and the association will take a call by Monday morning.
On the third day of the strike, people availing of the cab services had to either wait over 20 to 30 minutes for a cab and pay double the fare or opt for alternative options.
The impact of the strike, however, was lesser on Sunday compared to the preceding days as commuters were aware of the developments. However, the lack of alternative options added to the problems of commuters.
Kanisha Chugh of DLF Phase IV had to use three modes of public transport to reach Dwarka in New Delhi. The normal trip in a cab usually takes her around 40 minutes but Sunday’s journey lasted over two hours.
“I took an autorickshaw from my residence till the MG Road Metro station. Since there is no direct metro connectivity between Gurgaon and Dwarka, I took the Yellow line metro route till Rajiv Chowk Metro station and then changed to the Blue line (heading to Dwarka). I exited the Dwarka Sector 13 station and took a cyclerickshaw to my destination. The whole point-to-point journey lasted over 140 minutes,” Kanisha said.
“Prior to booking my cab, the UBER app showed that the cab will take over 21 minutes to reach my pick-up point and there was also a surge in prices, which meant the ride will cost double the rate. Since there was no urgency, I opted for the cab service and it came after 35 minutes,” Deepak Mukherjee, an employee with a sports management company, said.
The cab strike, however, gave a boost to auto drivers.
Naresh Kumar usually rides his three-wheeler from Sector 30 to parts of Civil Lines, mainly to the Mini Secretariat, MCG office or civil hospital. On Sunday, however, many people chose his service for long-distance trips.
“Since morning, I ferried passengers to Galleria, Golf Course Road and Sohna Road. On an average, I collect over Rs 800 but today (Sunday), I have already collected over Rs 1,000 by midday,” Naresh said.
When contacted UBER and OLA officials refused to comment on the matter.