A strike called by the union of Ola and Uber cab drivers on Friday, to vent their ire against companies’ policies, has hit commuters hard. Shortage of cabs and cancellation of cab trips has troubled many commuters.
Garema Khurana, who travels by cab from Goregaon till Lower Parel daily, had to wait for almost half an hour before she could be on her way to work. “Two cab drivers cancelled the trip, stating chaos on the roads as their reason. The third one finally came after 20-25 minutes of struggling to get a cab.”
Commuters choose app-based cabs due to cheaper rates, availability of AC travel at reasonable prices, convenience of booking and ease of availability of vehicles. Today’s situation on the roads scared commuters. “Hooligans on the road, in groups of 10-12, were stopping every car with a yellow number plate, dragging out their drivers and beating them up. While on the way, our car would get surrounded by these hooligans, who banged on the windows. The journey was a scary one, even as our driver narrated stories about seeing cab drivers being beaten up. Thankfully, our car was not stopped anywhere and I reached my destination safely,” Khurana said. There was no traffic on the roads, even at junctions which are usually the busiest during peak.
It has been reported that two large groups of drivers will protest in front of the offices of Ola and Uber in Andheri and Kurla respectively. The union has also threatened to hold a dharna at Azad Maidan on March 14 and an indefinite strike March 21 onwards. Their demand is a charge of Rs 20/kilometer, to ensure good earnings.
Some Uber and Ola drivers, however, did not share sentiment of the protesting drivers. On condition of anonymity, one Uber driver confessed that he did not know about any strike being conducted. “I am going to continue driving like any other day. The union did not get in touch with me about this protest. The commission does come to 25% with taxes and the number of trips has dropped over time. But I have been driving an Uber since 1.5 years and would want to continue since payments come on time.”
Mumbai has more than 30,000 aggregator cabs with an average 2.5 lakh rides daily. It is not a surprise then that an Uber driver decided to continue operating his cab services even though he knew about the strike. “My shift starts at 3 pm. So, I will decide then, depending on the situation then, if I will drive the cab then. At times, opportunists take advantage of the situation and damage our cars even when they have nothing to do with our cars or the strike. I don’t want to fall prey to that,” another Uber driver said, on condition of anonymity.