Crisis grips app-based taxishttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/crisis-grips-app-based-taxis/

Crisis grips app-based taxis

Facing loss of livelihood, drivers meet minister, as hundreds of app-based cabs are impounded

An Uber cab driver shows the challan receipt of his cab impounded by traffic police. Cab drivers gathered to protest outside the Delhi Secretariat after a crackdown on taxi services in New Delhi. (Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia)
An Uber cab driver shows the challan receipt of his cab impounded by traffic police. Cab drivers gathered to protest outside the Delhi Secretariat after a crackdown on taxi services in New Delhi. (Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia)

About 200 drivers attached to radio taxi services such as Uber, Ola Cabs and Taxi for Sure gathered outside the Delhi secretariat on Thursday to protest the government decision denying cab-operators licence to operate in Delhi.

On Wednesday, the Delhi government rejected the application filed by Uber, Ola Cabs and Taxi for Sure, stating that the cab-operating services had failed to submit an affidavit declaring that they are complying with ban imposed on them by the government, in letter and in spirit.

A team of four drivers met transport minister Gopal Rai. They contended that they were deprived of their livelihood owing to the ban.
All but six taxi-operators have been under a Delhi government ban since the driver of a Uber cab allegedly raped a female passenger on December 5.

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Government officials said that in a meeting held on May 28, the transport minister had asked cab operators to submit the details of vehicles and drivers registered with each of the services in one week, but they had failed to comply.

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Vijender Malik, who led the team of drivers that met Rai, told his colleagues gathered outside the secretariat, “The minister has said that the government is in favour of drivers continuing to pursue their work. The ban will be lifted if our companies provide details of all drivers and vehicles. Its a question of one week. We can either decide to park our cars or find a way to operate. We have to stay together in this.”

Mahavir Sharma, a driver with Uber, said that around Thursday noon a police official booked his cab and called him to R K Puram police station. Once he reached there, his Swift Desire car was impounded.

“We are incurring losses of about Rs 3,000-4000 per day because of this ban. Most drivers are attached to more than one taxi service and we accept passenger requests from any service we get. What is wrong with that? Why should we limit ourselves to one service?” said Ranjit Ray, a driver.

Shanno, a single mother who supports two children, has been a taxi driver for seven years and now drives for Ola and Taxi for Sure. “We have homes to run. How am I going to pay my daughter’s fees if I am without income for days until this ban is lifted. I am the sole bread-winner in my family.”

An official said the government does not want to deprive drivers of their livelihood but it will not compromise on women’s safety. “As soon as these companies submit details of their drivers, vehicles and submit the required affidavit, their application for license to operate in Delhi will be considered. The onus is now on the cab-operating services. If they think that the conditions imposed by us are stringent they can go to court,” the official said.

Police trying to outwit cabbies

Delhi Traffic Police has decided to book top executives of Ola Cabs, Uber and Taxi For Sure under several sections of the Motor Vehicle Act as they were allowing their drivers to operate despite a ban in Delhi. In the last 48 hours, the department has challaned nearly 300 cabs.

Special commissioner of police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander told The Indian Express that despite the ban in December, all the drivers of Ola Cabs, Uber and Taxi For Sure are operating in Delhi, “playing a cat-and-mouse game” with the authorities.

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“We have now decided that apart from prosecuting the cab drivers, we will book the top executives of Ola Cabs, Uber and Taxi For Sure and try to take the appropriate legal action against them,” he said.

Chander said one reason why his department could not take action against these banned cabs earlier was that “these three services were not mentioning the cab name in their car and were plying their vehicles in the name of some taxi stand”. Delhi Traffic Police has now asked its officials to download the apps and book cabs first. “Traffic inspectors will challan the driver when the cab  arrives. The vehicle will also be impounded.”

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