Failing to reach a settlement with cab aggregators Ola and Uber, protesters from the cab drivers’ union in Bengaluru have decided to take matters into their hands. A section of the drivers are now planning to launch their own cab hailing app, with the rest choosing to continue with the ride-sharing companies. As per a report by iGyaan, nearly 8,000 cab drivers are reportedly in favour of the move.
The drivers’ union has reportedly garnered support from political leaders as well. Tanveer Pasha, President of Uber, TaxiForSure and Ola Drivers And Owners Association said, “We were to start discussing the logistics of the app with JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy during the protest at Freedom Park but he could not come due to health concerns. Nevertheless, he has promised his support.”
As per Tanveer, leaders of various drivers’ unions, have come forward to be a part of the new app. A new driver union is also being established to support the app. As per sources close to the development, the app is expected to be ready in a month’s time.
Mayhem started in February 2017, when the drivers in Delhi went on a strike called by the Sarvodaya Driver Association of Delhi. They were protesting against decreased driver incentives, demanding for better perks, accidental insurance, etc. However, after 13 days of protests, the strike was finally called off in Delhi on February 27, 2017.
At the same time, driver protests in Bengaluru took a violent turn, when a few protesters vandalised the Uber office. It was resolved after the Police intervened in the matter.
Earlier this month after Delhi and Bengaluru, drivers associated with cab aggregators Ola and Uber went on a two-day strike in Chennai.
In an effort to head this problem off at the pass, Uber India Head Amit Jain tried to clarify the issues around driver earnings and incentives via a blog post. He said, “Small numbers of individuals, who do not represent the majority of the driver community, have been preventing drivers who want to work from doing so. We have been communicating daily to drivers – through phone support, text and video messages and in person at our greenlight centres, where every day thousands of drivers walk in to resolve their concerns.”
In another related development, as per a report by ET, the Tamil Nadu government is planning to introduce a rule book for app-based cab providers. The rulebook will include guidelines about fares, safety standards, and driver regulation, etc. The proposal has been cleared by the state transport authority and is being deliberated by the state government now.
P Murganantham, joint transport commissioner, Tamil Nadu said, “We had sent the proposal some time back. We are expecting a government order soon. Since the state budget is being readied, the timing could not be predicted, but it is imminent. The proposal we had sent included fare determination too.”
2016 was a bumpy ride for both the cab aggregators. In February 2016 the Karnataka government suggested new rules. This was led by protests in Delhi against surge pricing levied by both the aggregators.
In June 2016, both Uber and Ola registered themselves with the Karnataka On Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rule, 2016 and while Ola received the license, Uber didn’t. In July, the Delhi Autorickshaw Sangh and Delhi Pradesh Taxi Union called for an indefinite strike against app-based taxi services in Delhi. In January 2017, Karnataka’s transport department gave a three-day deadline to online cab aggregators, Ola and Uber, to stop their cab-sharing services in the state.
Ola also suffered a markdown in its valuation. In February 2017, it was reported that Ola raised $350 Mn from existing and new investors at a valuation of $3.5 Bn. Its last funding round was in November 2015, where it raised $500 Mn in its Series F funding round at a valuation of $5 Bn.