The Jharkhand transport department has banned mobile app-based taxi service Ola Cabs in Ranchi as it had been operating without official approval, a government officer said on Sunday.
The order to this effect was issued on Friday. It was expected to be implemented from Saturday. However, the service provider continued bookings, going against the order in the state capital on Sunday as well.
Regional Transport Authority (RTA) secretary Rajesh Kumar Barwar said, “We are not against the service but we want them to operate legally. The company is required to take licence for the service in Ranchi.” He said the restriction would be lifted once the company gets the licence.
Ola Cabs launched its service in Ranchi on April 1, 2015 with a fleet of 140 cars. The service became popular among Ranchi residents in a short span of time. Now, estimated 200 cabs operate in the name of the brand. The company had a plan to increase the cabs to 500 within the next six months of its launch in Ranchi.
According to the company’s site, it has extended its booking services to Dhanbad, Jamshedpur and Bokaro.
Taking cue from the success of the Ola service, about half-adozen web-based taxi services launched in the state capital. However, RTA has issued notice to only Ola Cabs, saying it has no information about other service providers in the state capital.
“We have not been informed about such services operating in the state capital,” the RTA secretary said, adding that they had sought details of operations in other states from the Ola company and also assessing the legal aspect of their operation in the city.
The government decision may affect hundreds of taxis associated with these applications and commuters might have to be deprived of emerging cab culture in the state capital.
“The web-based cab service is much cheaper than the traditional hired vehicles. Government could have sorted this out without banning its operation, as the service was for people’s benefit,” said Amit Singh, a commuter and frequent cab user.
He said that Ranchi district administration had launched a pre-paid auto service from the Ranchi railway station but the service disappeared due to officials’ negligence. “Now, they want to disturb this cab service,” he said.
HT tried to get Ola Company’s statement on this issue but none of the officials was willing to come on record.
A press release sent by the company says that Ola aims to open up a lucrative means of earning for many people in Ranchi who have not been able to own a cab either because of lack of information or financial support for initial down payment of cabs.
A senior official of the transport department said that the company officials had also argued with him that the company provided technology not cab besides all the vehicles operate under the company’s brand are commercially registered.