Cab drivers turn ‘beggars’ in Hyderabad, protest in Delhi

11 Feb 2017


Cab drivers in Delhi NCR as well as Hyderabad took to the streets on Friday to protest against aggregators Ola and Uber. They alleged that the taxi aggregators had "cheated" cabbies by luring them with "false promises".

In Hyderabad the drivers, part of the Telangana Cab Drivers and Owners Association, begged at a traffic signal in a semi-nude condition to highlight their plight. They vowed to continue their fight "till justice is delivered".

"About two hundred of us begged at the Jubilee Hills check-post to let people know about our situation. We believed the taxi aggregators' false promises and started driving the cabs. But now we are finding it hard to make ends meet," said Shiva V, president, TCDOA.

He claimed that no inconvenience was caused to the common public because of the protest. "If we had begged at different signals, it would have inconvenienced common commuters. That's the reason why we limited it to one place. Even on Saturday, we will do the same thing and will be cooking at one junction to protest against Ola and Uber," Shiva added.

Police took several cab drivers into preventive custody to avoid any untoward incident. They were released later in the evening, albeit with a warning. "We picked up the cab drivers under CrPc 151 around noon as they were protesting at a traffic signal and released them by evening," said S Venkat Reddy, Station House Officer (SHO) of Jubilee Hills.

Previously, on New Year's Eve, cabbies in the city had launched a five-day strike against Ola and Uber. The unions had put forth a set of demands ranging from scrapping the cab-sharing system to stopping the cab-leasing scheme of aggregators. About 2,000 cabbies sat at Dharna Chowk demanding that Ola, Uber, and state government solve their problems.

'Unfriendly policies'
In Delhi too, drivers of the cab-hailing firms have started an indefinite strike to protest against "unfriendly policies" of their employers.

Several passengers complained that they were forced out of the cabs midway by protesting drivers. Many had to hunt for autos and buses to reach their destinations. The angry Ola and Uber drivers allegedly even stopped other privately-owned taxies and pulled out passengers.

"I took a Meru cab from sector 21 market (Gurugram) to go to my sector 34 office. As I reached Maharana Pratap Chowk, the drivers protesting there forced me out and asked me to go by bus. I faced lots of inconvenience as I eventually took a shared autorickshaw to reach Gurugram bus stand and again hired another auto to reach Hero Honda Chowk situated on NH8 near my office," Sameer Gupta, who works with a leading two-wheeler firm, told India Today.

The drivers are demanding that their fare be increased from the existing Rs6 per kilometre.

There are around 2 lakh drivers with the app-based companies in the national capital region. About 10,000 of them have gone on strike. Over 2,500 drivers protested at Jantar Mantar and two also sat on hunger strike.

"These companies are promising us income of more than Rs1 lakh per month. But they are charging just Rs6 per km," said Sunil Singh, a protesting driver at Jantar Mantar. "The situation is such that we are not even earning enough to feed our families or pay instalments on vehicles. Our demand is to endorse the government-sanctioned fare set for taxi services."

The protesting cabbies are demanding better perks, fewer hours, accident insurance, hike in share of earning, discontinuation of ride-sharing service and cap on adding cars.

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