Hyderabad: Taxi drivers who have signed up to app-based taxi services are exactly over the moon that the central government has announced a moratorium on EMI payments for most loans. Most take bank loans to buy their vehicles and service the loans with what they make driving.
But since the lockdown began on March 24, no one is going anywhere, and taxi drivers have zero income. Most of them feel the moratorium is cold comfort, the interest will pile up anyway.
Their union, the Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT) has conducted two surveys covering 6,500 app-based drivers across 66 cities in the country, mainly to ask how they've been. Many drivers reported they don't find the moratorium helpful.
Shaik Salauddin, national general secretary of IFAT, said, “Most drivers said their incomes are near zero currently. They wonder how they can pay the extra interest three months from now if they barely make any money now.”
The survey found that drivers’ EMIs ranges from Rs 10,000-20,000. “A vast number of respondents want the government to forego interest and extend the EMI repayment until December 2020,” read IFAT’s statement.
They also hoped for a waiver of commercial taxes for at least three months and extension of the validity of vehicle documents such as pollution certificates, registration and insurance during the same period.
Kamaljeet Singh, vice president of IFAT, appealed to the government to acknowledge the issues of drivers and help them rebuild their lives.
Salauddin on the other hand criticised the aggregators for their ‘half-hearted’ attempts to help the drivers. “For instance, Ola is providing microcredit loans to its drivers. But not all drivers are being treated equally. The sums being distributed differ from driver to driver and state to state. We have been unable to understand the criteria. Also, the sum is to be paid back 45 days after the first payment is made to the drivers,” he said.
Salauddin accused the companies -- Ola, Uber and Zomato -- of being opaque. “We don’t know how many drivers have actually received any monetary assistance so far. Our survey suggests that only a very small fraction have benefited until now. We have been unable to get any figures from any of the companies,” said Salauddin....