Drivers of app-based taxis who have united as the ‘Action Committee of Maharashtra’ said the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules, 2017 would further reduce their already falling incomes. In effective since March 4, the state government’s new rules aim to regulate app-based taxis and control their dynamic pricing. They include lower and upper limits on fares and a daffodil-yellow colour for the cars, to distinguish them from ordinary tourist cabs. They also make permits mandatory for all app-based cabs and public transport badges for all drivers. A permit will cost Rs25,000 for vehicles under 1,400cc and a whopping Rs2.61 lakh for those with more powerful engines.
Prafulla Shinde, 27, a member of ACM who has been driving an app-based cab for the past three years, said, “Ola and Uber had committed to a monthly income of Rs 1.25 lakh for us, which is why thousands of people bought new cars. But now it is difficult to earn even Rs500-1,000 a day because of reduced incentives and various penalties imposed by the companies. Many drivers have been unable to pay their EMIs for the past few months. How will they pay for new badges, permits and paint?”
ACM members said that their main demand to Ola and Uber was the implementation of a uniform incentive scheme for all types of cabs in their fleets and equal treatment for company-owned cabs and those owned by drivers. Another demand is the scrapping of penalties for refusing rides and other reasons. Members said they had already presented their demands to the government, Ola and Uber but were yet to hear back.
According to a source, more than 9,000 drivers of app-based taxis have registered with ACM. Until recently, they were scattered across 42 groups, three unions and a NGO, but came together to take on the government and their employers.
They have planned a series of strikes, the first of which is on Friday. A source said the drivers will first protest outside Ola’s office at Andheri on Friday morning before taking their protest to Uber’s office and Azad Maidan. Both Ola and Uber refused to comment on the issue.
ACM members claimed that their agitation would spread as they received support from their counterparts in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune. Leaders of taxi unions from these cities will travel to the city for Friday’s agitation.