For five days now, Bengalureans used to hailing an Uber and Ola cab have been left in the lurch. The drivers working with these aggregators have stopped taking rides for Uber and Ola.
So will the protest by drivers end soon? It looks unlikely, in fact, the protest has taken a turn for the worse. In the wee hours of Monday, a 32-year-old Ola/Uber driver was brutally assaulted near Sampangirama Nagar in Bengaluru.
Ola and Uber drivers have been protesting since February 22 demanding a standard fare, to stop car pooling and to remove penalty levied for cancelling rides.
According to Tanveer Pasha, President of the Ola, TaxiForSure and Uber Driversâ€™ Association, the driver-partners will continue to protest till the cab-aggregating companies acknowledged their demands and agreed to meet the drivers for an amicable settlement.
â€śWe have been protesting since last Wednesday and the companies have not even agreed to listen to our demands. It has been five days and since there is no response, it tells us that they do not care what happens to us. Why should we care about their business if they donâ€™t care about our well-being. If we do not pay the EMI, then the banks will seize our vehicles. Any way, we are not making enough money to pay EMIs so we are going to protest until our demands are met,â€ť Pasha said.
When questioned about the inconvenience the protest is causing many commuters in the city, Pasha said that twice before, when the drivers had protested, the company representatives had asked for more time to resolve the issue.
â€śTwo deadlines to meet our demands have lapsed, two drivers have almost died and yet they donâ€™t care. We will not stop protesting. Before Ola and Uber were launched, people were traveling and going about their day-to-day business. They will simply have to switch to other means of transport until this matter is resolved,â€ť Pasha said.
On Monday, the Karnataka High Court issued an injuction restraining unions and their members from preventing Ube drivers from doing their work. However, there is no guarantee that the unions will abide by this order.
Attacks on drivers
Many drivers, who chose to work, were stopped by protesting drivers, and passengers were made to get out of their cars. Also, a few protesting drivers took to distributing roses to drivers who chose to be on duty and asked them to join the driversâ€™ protest.
The President of Bengaluru Tourist Taxi Association, Radhakrishna Holla, said that either unidentified miscreants or other drivers had beaten up the driver near Sampangirama Nagar as he was on duty despite the protest call.
â€śThe man is now undergoing treatment at the Sindhi hospital in Sampangirama Nagar,â€ť Holla added.
Uber wants the government to provide security to drivers who are willing to take their vehicles out. "We're sorry that our service has been disrupted in Bangalore. We're aware of isolated reports of threats and intimidation from a small group of people. We again call on the authorities to put an end to this illegal behavior. We are committed to ensuring that drivers who wish to work are able to do so, and riders can get from A to B conveniently, reliably and safely," an Uber spokesperson told TNM.
With the Drivers' Association and the aggregators not relenting, the deadlock may continue for more days.