Earlier this week, a group of 40 bike taxi riders have reportedly showed up at a grievance redressal day meeting organised by the Coimbatore district collectorate office. The bike taxi riders have asked the government to lift the stay of bike taxi operations.
Earlier this month, Madras High Court has banned the operations of bike taxi aggregator Rapido in the state of Tamil Nadu, till the TN government formulates new Motor Vehicles Act.
Besides seeking to legalize their operations, bike taxi riders sought protection from autorickshaw and cab drivers who often corner them and confiscate their vehicles.
According to a media report, bike taxi riders have asked for protection from cab and autorickshaw drivers who are said to corner them and confiscate their vehicles. A bike taxi rider, Antony reportedly said, “From the day the Madras high court banned us from operating and the collectorates began implementing it, our livelihoods have been affected.”
“There are 2K riders in Coimbatore who have been unable to drive and 25K across the state,” he added. The drivers reportedly said in a petition submitted at the collectorate that the bike taxis is a reliable source of employment for them, as they already own a two-wheeler. They also noted that two-wheelers occupies less space on the road and thus could be helpful in reducing congestion on the city roads.
The report also noted that the bike taxi riders are even willing to pay the extra road tax, higher insurance premiums, get fitness certificate like all other commercial vehicles if only given the provision the government legalise their operations.
Currently, with the ban on bike taxis operations, the vehicles are reportedly handed over to the regional transport office (RTO) who then impound these vehicles.
The High Court passed the order after the state transport authority and the police department questioned the validity of Rapido operating its service in Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Nadu government had objected against the service of Rapido in the state as it did not come under the purview of the Motor Vehicles Act.
This development comes on the heels of reports that about 38 Rapido bike-taxis have been seized by the Regional Transport officials for running their services illegally through an app without permission.
Tamil Nadu is the second state where Rapido is facing government regulations because of not being authorised under the law. Earlier this year, the Karnataka transport department had also wrote to Ola and Rapido to stop its bike taxi services immediately.
Till April 9, 2019, the decision was pending in the High Court. The court was hearing the petition filed by the Bengaluru-based cab aggregator Ola against the Karnataka transport department for not providing the company with a licence to operate bike taxis in the state.
Also, earlier today, the Supreme Court of India has asked the Centre to consider making laws for governing and regulating application-based taxi services like Ola and Uber.
Founded by Rishikesh SR, Pavan Guntupalli and Aravind Sanka in October 2015, Rapido currently has 10K active drivers or “captains”, including women. Anyone with a two-wheeler license, a bike, a vehicle registration certificate, and bike insurance can register themselves as a Rapido Captain.
Earlier this year, Rapido was reported to be doing 2.5 Mn rides a month and had plans to grow to 20 Mn rides by the end of this year. However, with a ban on operations in two key states of its operations, Rapido has a major downward slope to handle before planning its growth.