Dream of turning owners left cabbies high and dry


HYDERABAD: Dashed dreams of turning employer from being a mere employee appears to be at the heart of the ongoing drivers’ strike that completed a week on Friday. For cabbies, it has now become a struggle for survival. Two years ago, every cabbie enrolled with the two firms were just drivers.
In no time, the business boomed and more cabs flooded the city’s streets. With it came fat salaries and even fatter incentives. Monthly earnings shot from Rs 10,000- Rs 14,000 (usual salary of a cab driver) to Rs 70,000 and above.
While it drew more drivers to the doors of Ola and Uber, it also ignited a quiet aspiration among them – of becoming owners. Promised better pay , thousands rushed to banks and automobile showrooms to drive out in a brand new car.The high EMIs, for loan periods varying between 36 and 48 months, were among the least of their concerns. As of today , 80 per cent of the 80,000 odd cabbies associated with Ola and Uber in the city are owners-cum-drivers. “But it feels like a burden now,” confesses Prashanth R, who bought a hatchback last year. He pays an EMI of `11, 000. “I had been a driver for over 10 years and thought it was time to own a car. I could eventually run my own business,” Prashanth shared. Saddled with loans and household duties, he is now taking up any job that comes his way to pay bills
“This is the story of most drivers who tied up with Ola and Uber. They got so addicted to the incentives that they did not think of the consequences,” said a senior official working with a major cab service provider. Now, with a fare of `6 per km and zero incentives, the drivers are left cursing . “Even if we want to, we cannot break away from the group.There is the fear of being discriminated against by our own people.Also, if we roll back our dharna the Ola Uber managements will never do anything about our demands,” said K Goud, another cabbie.