Bengaluru: Ola and Uber and Transport Department are expected to take a decision on the demands of the protesting drivers on Wednesday.
“Last week, we went on a strike and took out a rally from Maurya Circle to Vidhan Soudha and ended it at the Ola office. Two of our drivers attempted suicide that day. We thought the RTO would support us. But it is almost a month and nothing has happened,” said Mr Kiran Gowda, president, Karunada Rajya Taxi Owners and Drivers Association.“If the companies do not respond even this time after several extensions, we will do something different. We will take it forward to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. We might also send a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said.
The drivers have been protesting for the last 20 days against lesser incentives from the cab aggregators.Ramesh, a member of the Bruhat Bengaluru Taxi Driver's Union, said that Ola and Uber are not winning either. “The business for Ola and Uber has gone down. Their bookings have reduced by 75%. The main reason is because they are adding cabs but customer demand remains the same. For example these companies had 100 cars earlier, but now they have 300.”
With cab aggregators coming into picture, cab services Mega, Meru and KSTDC have been suffering losses. Sticking to the government-specified rate of `19.5 per km, they face stiff competition from private players who charge much lesser. Despite following rules like driver uniforms, vehicle tracking, regular renewal of cars, unlike Ola and Uber, their business has been affected, they said.
“At the airport, there used to be 2,000 Meru cabs. But since Ola and Uber have taken over, the number has come down to 350. Drivers too quit as incentives offered by cab aggregators were attractive,” said Ramesh.Neither Uber nor Ola has commented on the strikes and have continued their operations.
Pool pandemonium: Since the beginning of this month, commuters have been confused about the availability of pool services. The Transport Department had said that cab sharing was illegal and violated the contract carriage act.
They ordered immediate withdrawal, but later, on the request of Uber, gave some time. On February 3, the transport commissioner said that 15 days would be given to Uber to file their proposal.“Uber has given the proposal to us and we have forwarded it to the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The central government will take the final decision on cab pool services. As for drivers’ demands, if there is no decision on Wednesday, we will step in,” said Commissioner for Transport and Road Safety M.K. Aiyappa.
The driver unions, however, criticised the car pooling service. “We are against pool services as we suffer losses. We also cannot go on 18 trips per day as demanded by the cab aggregators if we drive pool cabs. If we don’t meet this number, we do not get incentives," said Kiran Gowda, president, Karunada Rajya Taxi Owners and Drivers’ Association.Ramesh said most of the money goes to cab aggregators. “If the driver takes three people in a pool service, for `150 each, the total comes to `450. In this, `350 goes to the company and drivers are left with only `100.”