Auto drivers go on strike in Mumbai against app-based cabs

Protesting rickshaw owners and drivers are demanding effective regulation on business operation of popular app-based taxi services.

Mumbai: Nearly one lakh auto rickshaws went off the roads in Mumbai on Wednesday during a day-long strike to press for regulation of app-based cab sevices, hitting commuters hard with many stranded in several places across the metropolis.

Protesting rickshaw owners and drivers under the Mumbai Autorickshawmen's Union are demanding effective regulation on business operation of popular app-based taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber including their pricing strategy to attract customers.

"The government has miserably failed to regulate the practice of transportation of passengers via cab services booked through call centres which are making a dent in our business," Union leader Shashank Rao said.

"And not only this, they are eating into our livelihood without following any rules. We resorted to this strike as we had no option left. The transport ministry has turned a deaf ear to our legitimate demands," said Rao.

The protesters are demanding that a badge be given to all rickshaw drivers and owners, who are in this business since three years without imposing any restrictions on them.

Currently, there are 1.05 lakh registered rickshaws plying in the city and the Rao-led union claims to have over 90 per cent of them in its fold.

"Out of these 1.05 lakh registered rickshaws, almost 98,000-99,000 rickshaws are off roads today which shows our strength," Rao added.

Meanwhile, a senior Transport department official said that it is unfortunate that despite being given an assurance from the government, they went ahead with the strike.

He, however, said that the administration has taken ample measures including plying of additional civic BEST buses to ferry commuters who are feeling the pinch due to the stir.

Manoj Varade, spokesperson of BEST undertaking told PTI, "Our administration has already given a free hand to all 27 bus depot managers across the city to operate additional services as per requirement."

Earlier on August 29, two auto and taxi driver unions Jai Bhagwan Taxi Rickshaw Sangathana and Nitesh Rane-led Swabhimaan Sanghatana had put on hold their decision till September 1 to go an indefinite strike in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai after the Maharashtra government promised to look into their demands seriously.

Their three key demands included to put the operations of app-based cab aggregators on hold till rules and regulations are formulated by the state government, and if allowed, they should be asked to ply outside the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, and they should be under the ambit of RTO rules and regulation.

( Source : PTI )
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