Taxi and auto drivers in Bengaluru conducted 11th day funeral rites for the Karnataka government’s ‘false promise of compensation’ on Tuesday. The drivers, who have been promised a compensation of Rs 5,000 each for the loss of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, are miffed that the process for claiming compensation has not been initiated yet. To protest this, they held ‘funeral rites’ for the promise that was made 11 days ago – signifying the death of the promise made to them.
Tanveer Pasha, president of Ola Uber Drivers and Owners’ Association, who led the protests, said, “More than 10 days after announcing the Rs 5,000 compensation for drivers, there are no forecasts for when we will receive this. So, our auto and taxi driver Associations are doing 11th day rites of this government's false declaration.”
A section of drivers held the demonstration on Monday outside the office of Transport Commissioner at Shantinagar, Bengaluru.
This one-time compensation amount of Rs 5,000 was announced by Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on May 6. In a Rs 1,610 crore compensation package as part of COVID-19 relief, 7.75 lakh auto and taxi drivers were promised Rs 5,000 each.
But the transport department is yet to initiate the registration process for these drivers. Drivers can register themselves at the Seva Sindhu website once the section of the website is ready, Additional Transport Commissioner Hemanth Kumar said, speaking to TNM. They are hopeful that the drivers can register themselves for compensation by this week, he added.
“We are going to test it tomorrow. Most of the work for the drivers’ application section has been made ready. But we are facing some glitches with our network here. If all goes well, we can go live by day after tomorrow as well,” he said.
However, the drivers are not hopeful that they will receive the promised compensation. “We know that this government is not going to give Rs 5,000 to our drivers which is declared by the Chief Minister of Karnataka. But we will fight and protest,” Tanveer said.
Narayan Swamy, who is the president of Adarsh Auto Driver Union and Hamid Akbar Ali, president of Airport Taxi Union said that neither they nor their colleagues have gotten a single rupee from the government. Swamy complained that many of the drivers were helplessly trying to register themselves with the government’s Seva Sindhu portal but were not aware that their section was yet to be introduced.
Sandeep, another Bengaluru-based Uber driver partner said, “It has been 10 days since the announcement, and the government has not been able to even set up the portal yet.”
Since mid-March business has been majorly affected for taxi and auto drivers due to the COVID-19 lockdown. While the government and aggregators Uber and Ola had promised compensation, many of them were left without help.