Commuters in Mumbai are likely to be inconvenienced on Tuesday, with taxis set to join a rally against app-based vehicles such as Ola and Uber.
The protest has been organised by Swabhiman Taxi-Rickshaw union, led by Congress MLA Nitesh Rane, at the state transport commissioner’s office in Bandra. The union has demanded the state ban operators such as Ola, Uber and Taxi for Sure, which are eating into the livelihood of black-and-yellow taxis.
Mumbai has around 40,000 conventional taxis, including cool cabs. Though the bigger taxi unions have announced they will stay away for the agitation, many drivers are supporting it, as app-based taxis have severely affected their income.
KK Tiwari, leader of Swabhiman union, said about 10,000-15,000 taxi drivers are expected to participate. “There will be fewer taxis ion the roads.”
The union clarified it is only holding a demonstration, and not going on a strike. But several drivers have confused Tuesday’s rally with a strike call, and said they will participate in it.
“App-based taxis have affected our business very much. We do not get long-distance customers nowadays. For several days, I have not got a single customer for Thane, which was not the case earlier,” said a taxi driver, justifying the agitation.
Tiwari said if the authorities do not agree to consider their demand, they will start an indefinite dharna outside the transport commissioner’s office. “Even autorickshaws will participate in the indefinite agitation,” he said.
The Swabhiman union has been agitating against app-based taxis throughout August, and some vehicles were even damaged in the western suburbs.
AL Quadros, veteran taxi union leader, said drivers do not want to participate in the agitation, but still may keep off the roads fearing vandalism. “Even if a windscreen is shattered, it means a loss of Rs 5,000 to us.”
A delegation of Vahatuk Sena met additional transport commissioner Satish Sahastrabuddhe on Monday, and demanded banning app-based taxis. Sanjay Jamdar, leader of Vahatuk Sena, said they have given a 10-day ultimatum to the government.
Sonia Sethi, transport commissioner, said the proposal for a uniform taxi scheme for the city has been sent to government. “Peaceful demonstrations are okay, but disrupting of public services will be dealt with firmly,” she said.