An online video of auto-drivers blocking and rebuking an Uber driver and his passenger at the Ernakulam South railway station in Kerala is going viral on social media.
This is the latest in the series of attacks on corporate taxi aggregator services such as Uber and Ola in Kerala.
Little did Kochi-based fashion designer Vidya Gopalakrishanan think that she would have to bear the brunt of a fight between traditional transport services and aggregators. Vidya hailed an Uber taxi at the railway station on Wednesday morning. She had just arrived from Bangalore, and was on her way to Kakkanad.
The cab had hardly moved a few yards ahead when it was surrounded by some auto-drivers who kept shouting that online taxi services were not allowed to operate in the area.
In the video, which was shot by Vidya, the belligerent drivers can be seen shouting and abusing the cab-driver, while asking her to opt for a prepaid auto to her destination.
Speaking to The News Minute, Vidya said that when she refused to come out of the cab, the drivers threatened her.
â€śI told them I had no ready cash with me. They said that the auto could stop at an ATM to enable me to withdraw money. But I refused to come out. I told them that I had booked the cab, and so I would travel in that,â€ť she says.
According to Vidya, even the police were of no help.
â€śSince the situation was getting worse, I dialed the control room. First, a cop arrived, and he asked me to come out of the cab and take another taxi. I refused to do so. After that a group of policemen came, and they too adopted an antagonistic stance. Only one officer supported me,â€ť she recalls.
Vidya had to spend almost one and half hours inside the cab trying to convince the auto drivers to let her continue her journey.
â€śThey showered me with abuses, and even threatened that they would not let me leave until I had deleted the video. But I stood firm. In the end, I was allowed to leave but not before they had warned that this would be the last time cabs booked online would be allowed anywhere near the station."
Vidya added in a Facebook post that the Uber driver was assaulted by the auto drivers.
Though both groups have been at loggerheads for many months, a sort of compromise had been stuck recenltly by demarcating areas of service
Vidyaâ€™s video has resulted in a few questioning why an Uber driver entered the station that is considered a domain of pre-paid taxis and autos. Others point out that whatever be the compromise between the groups. Vidya was well within her rights to use the service she preferred.
You can watch the video here.