Ola, Uber drivers go on strike against Haryana govt’s inter-state border tax
Taxi services from New Delhi to Gurgaon were hit on Monday because of a protest by drivers of Ola, Uber and traditional cab operators against a revised and hiked road tax in Haryana.
They were unhappy with the Haryana government’s decision to charge an inter-state border toll of Rs 100 for five-seater cars such as hatchbacks and Rs 500 for bigger seven-seater vehicles a day from April 1. Or, the taxi operators have the option of buying a monthly pass for Rs 3,000.
Before the tax structure was changed, the drivers paid a one-time entry tax of Rs 950 for three months to the regional transport authority.
The revision has hit the app-based ride-hailing services more, as these have grabbed business from traditional taxi operators with their cheaper fares. Drivers argued that the tax hike would reduce their earnings.
Commuters had a tough time as both Uber and Ola faced disruptions, with their apps showing “no cars available” when attempts were made to book a ride in New Delhi during the day.
“An Ola driver refused, saying he is joining the protesters in central Delhi. Another said the queues at the border tax office are too long. After unsuccessful attempts, a driver agreed finally to take me to Gurgaon,” said Dhruv Virmani, a resident of central Delhi’s Shanti Niketan.
Cabbies gathered at the Haryana Bhawan in New Delhi and shouted slogans. Many more were seen at the toll collection booth in Sirhaul, where long queues were recorded as officials were allegedly not equipped the handle the rush.
“Precious time was lost … our earnings got hit as we were stuck at the toll booth, instead of driving passengers,” said Kamaljeet, a cabbie.
Taxi unions in the national capital cautioned that they may start an indefinite strike unless the tax hike is reversed since passengers won’t pay the revised charge.
“Passengers argue when we demand Rs 100 or Rs 500 to pay the tax,” said Gopal, a taxi owner.
Ola and Uber officials refused comments.
Roughly 20,000 cabs ply between Delhi and Gurgaon and most of them carry executives of companies based out of the satellite city.
Taxi services between Gurgaon and New Delhi were paralysed this February too, as Ola and Uber drivers led a strike demanding better pay and life insurance.
It was the first big confrontation between trade unions representing taxi drivers in the Delhi region of 25 million people and the two ride-hailing players — San Francisco-based Uber, and homegrown rival Ola.