Around 300 cab drivers staged a protest against mobile-based cab aggregators Ola and Uber at Jantar Mantar on Friday and threatened to go on a bigger strike on Monday. The drivers, who are demanding that their fare should be increased from the existing Rs 6 per kilometre, said that on Monday no commercial taxis and autos will be allowed to ply in Delhi-NCR if their demands are not met.
Ola and Uber drivers halted work in Hyderabad and Bangalore earlier this week. On Friday, the drivers have called for a strike in the national capital region of Delhi. Shortage of cabs was experienced by commuters even as app based companies introduced surge pricing to break the strike.
“When they started, they offered us good incentives, so everyone was excited to come on board. But, now they have stopped incentives. This is hurting us badly. We took loans, thinking this is how things will be. They have changed their schemes now and we are finding it hard to pay the instalments (EMIs),” Sanjeev, a driver with Uber, told Techcircle.in.
Drivers claim that the meagre fares make it difficult for them to pay the instalments on their car loans. Working hours is another issue raised by them. “They (Ola/Uber) have given us such big targets that we have to work 24 hours or sometimes even more. Otherwise, we do not get any payment,” said Hira Singh, who has been driving for Uber for two years.
They claimed that the companies never come out to help them in case of an accident or a police case. “Uber did not come out in support of the driver who died in the recent BMW accident. They didn’t give any compensation. In fact, we proposed to contribute from our income and give some money to the family of the victim. For that we asked some support from them, but that also was rejected,” said Ravi Rathod, another driver.
Uber, ride hailing app, last month hiked fares for its UberGO service by up to 15 percent in Delhi-NCR. The company started increased ride time charge to Rs. 1.5 per minute from Re. 1 earlier. For those unaware, Uber charges Rs. 6 per km for up to 20 kilometers and Rs. 12 thereafter, with a minimum fare of Rs. 60 for UberGO.
With lowered incentives, hiked commissions, taxes and more supply of cabs, driver incomes have reduced in past few months. With a constant battle with the state governments and a race to raise more capital, it’s important for app based companies to not ignore the driver who acts as the fulcrum to this business. Hiking fares will also reduce demand for these companies. App based cab aggregators have to maintain a delicate balance between demand-supply and ride fares-driver incentives to not let this business crash in India.