BENGALURU: Ola and Uber continued to ply their trade on Sunday despite a de facto ban, carrying on with what the Karnataka authorities believe is a pattern of defiance that led them yesterday to say that app-based cab aggregators cannot operate without a licence.
With the IPL final in Bengaluru on Sunday, transport authorities are unlikely to take immediate action to enforce their order, which means citizens can venture out without fear of inconvenience today.
“We have not imposed any ban on operations of app-based taxi aggregators. We have asked those aggregators who are offering their services without a licence to stop their operations immediately,” Transport Commissioner Rame Gowda told ET. Which means the likes of Ola and Uber, which do not yet have a licence, should not be running their cabs.
Ola and Uber, the biggest players, did not reply to questions from ET.
The government’s move is seen as the transport department’s way of forcing the aggregators to fall in line, and obey the latest set of regulations notified for app-based taxi services. Officials believe that the aggregators have been cocking a snook at them, especially in the matter of surge pricing. Rules prohibit cab aggregators from raising rates when demand is high, but the taxi apps continued the practice despite government disapproval.
The transport department’s missive, official sources said, also followed complaints from drivers offering cab services for aggregators. The drivers felt that enforcement officials unfairly targeted them, and seized their cabs on grounds that they did not have a licence and are charging surge-pricing. More than 1,000 cabs have been confiscated in the last two months.
The state government on April 2 notified the Karnataka On- Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016. It lays down a slew of regulations for aggregators to comply with, including obtaining a licence and adhering to the fare chart notified by the government. In other words, the rules ban surge-pricing, a regulation aggregators have resented.
“Some aggregators including Uber and Ola have applied for a licence, but they have to fulfill conditions like getting the drivers’ background verified by the police department, and implement security measures. Once they complete this, we will issue licenses,” Gowda said.
A government source said one of the large aggregators seemed to be in a mood to fulfil as many conditions as it could, and its driver verification process with the police department is nearing completion. Another, he claimed, has continued to resist.
The government, the official said, is willing to even suggest amendments to the April 2 regulations. But for the department to make any such move, the aggregators will have to first obtain a licence.