Commuters were left in the lurch Friday as Ola and Uber drivers went on strike to protest against the Rs 6 per km rates, which they said favour only passengers. Some pointed to autorickshaws and said even those charge Rs 8 per km. Threatening to launch a bigger strike from Monday, drivers said the Rs 6 per km fare is not enough compensation for them. “We have been demanding that rates be increased… We are going to go big with this agitation till our demands are met,” Kamaljit Singh, president of the Delhi Taxi Driver Union, said.
He, along with around 300 drivers, members of the Sarvodaya Driver Association of Delhi and the Delhi Taxi Driver Union, staged a protest at Jantar Mantar. Singh has gone on an indefinite hunger strike. Md. Sultan, a former Uber driver who now operates privately, claimed, “Initially, Uber did not charge a commission but over time it began charging 25 per cent… Earnings have fallen from Rs 60,000 to Rs 25,000 per month and we are still paying installments for our vehicles.”
Commuters, meanwhile, suffered through the day. Jinal Dadiya, a lawyer, booked and cancelled cabs thrice on Friday morning after her Uber app flashed a 20, 25 and 30 minute wait. “I logged in to Ola; there were no cabs available. I had to take an autorickshaw from CR Park to my office 4 km away. The driver charged me Rs 80 — double of what I usually pay,” she said.
By evening, Uber was showing the ‘no cabs’ sign in many parts of the city. Rajender Soni, general secretary of the Delhi Pradesh Taxi Union, said, “No black and yellow cabs and no autorickshaws will participate in the strike. These (protesting) drivers were greedy and were lured into buying vehicles on installments by Uber and Ola’s fascinating returns.”
Ola refused to comment on the issue. But a company official said promotions on the app for Ola Auto were “pumped up”. An Uber spokesperson said, “A small group of people are disrupting services in parts of Delhi, and there have been isolated reports of threats and intimidation.” Cab driver unions claimed around 65 per cent of the roughly two lakh app-based cabs took part in the strike.
How they fare
UBER GO: 60 (base) + Rs 6/km (Rs 12/km after 20 km)
OLA (Micro): Rs 40 (base) + Rs 6/km (Rs 12/km after 20 km)
Autorickshaw: Rs 25 (base) + Rs 8/km
Delhi Police black-yellow taxi: Rs 25 (base) + 16/km