Government says can’t help, cab drivers to step up protest

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BENGALURU: The state government’s attempt to resolve the simmering dispute between cab aggregators and drivers have fallen flat even before it took off with the transport department saying on Tuesday that they cannot do much because the companies were not charging more than the rates fixed by the government. Officials of the transport department met representatives from the Ola-TaxiForSure-Uber (OTU) Drivers’ and Owners’ Union on Tuesday.

The cab drivers have now threatened to scale up their protests.

Transport minister Ramalinga Reddy had said on Monday that he would discuss the issues with the Ola and Uber managements following a dawn to dusk protest by cab drivers in Bengaluru against differential tariff followed by the aggregators. They demanded a flat, government-approved rate — Rs 19.5 per km for AC vehicles and Rs 14.5 per km for non-AC vehicles. At present, Ola and Uber charge Rs 6 or Rs 7 per km, depending on the type of vehicle, but they also charge a base rate of Rs 40 and ride time charges of Re 1 per minute.

Tanveer Pasha, head of the union, said the cabbies were feeling demoralized and betrayed by the state government’s approach. “The irresponsibility of RTOs is clear. The officials categorically said they cannot help us because the companies are complying with the aggregator rules in enforce in the state. I think we have to up the momentum of our protest, may be commit suicide in front of Vidhana Soudha to make the government realize what pains we are going through. Low fares are drilling deep holes in our pockets but they are benefiting people who use these services and the companies. The government is therefore unwilling to budge,” he said.

The drivers have said the companies should discontinue their low fares and adhere to the government-approved rates. The union also alleges that the cab aggregators bypass the mandatory requirement of driver verification. “There is a huge influx of drivers from Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh and Odisha because the aggregators are liberally offering them cabs through a host of instalment schemes. But the companies have not done any background check for them. The rule mandates the drivers’ background to be verified and recorded. Law also makes it a must for drivers to know the local language which they don’t,” Pasha told TOI.
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previously it was auto mafia and now it is cab mafia.nothing changed.only the looting amount differsganesh R

HG Kumar, additional commissioner of transport department and State Transport Authority (STA) officer, said, “If there are complaints about drivers not being verified, we will enforce the rules. But we have no role to play as mediators between the companies and the drivers to sort out the fare issues. If the companies levy fare higher than the government approved rate — Rs19.5 per km — we will take action against them. But as long as they stick to it, how can we take action?”

There is no clarity, however, whether the transport department will call a meeting with the Ola and Uber managements to discuss the issues.