Uber, Ola cabs vandalised in Kerala as traditional auto and taxi drivers strike out

The trade unions deny these allegations.
Uber, Ola cabs vandalised in Kerala as traditional auto and taxi drivers strike out
Uber, Ola cabs vandalised in Kerala as traditional auto and taxi drivers strike out
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Four Uber cabs were vandalised by a group of autorickshaw drivers in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. Stones were pelted at the cars and some of miscreants broke the glasses using rocks and iron rods. Police have arrested one of the suspects in the case, while the others are yet to be tracked down.

Drivers affiliated to taxi aggregators, Uber and Ola, claim that the attack on their cabs are not isolated incidents, and they have been facing a series of attacks since the aggregator services were first launched two years ago.

“Three of the cabs have serious damages. Moreover, we have come to know that auto drivers and taxi drivers have taken a common decision to attack us wherever we go,” alleged Sunil Kumar, Thiruvananthapuram district President of the All-Kerala Online Taxi Drivers Union (OTDU).

He also said that the other drivers’ wrath has also been growing by the day, resulting in an attack on an Ola or Uber cab almost every other day.

OTDU Kerala President A Navas told The News Minute that neither Uber nor Ola are taking any steps to help them tackle the issue. “In Kochi we somehow solved the issue ourselves. Earlier attacks were frequent in Kochi, but now it has reduced. We formed the association and tackled it. In Thiruvananthapuram, the problem is at it peak. Almost all major police stations in that district have at least 10 cases registered against auto or taxi drivers for attacking us,” he said.

Sunil Kumar alleges that trade unions backed by political parties are behind these planned attacks.

“Taxis were attacked in many different places at the same time. That means they were planned. All unions are united in their attack on us. But they won’t officially confirm that unions are behind attack,” he said.

However, the trade unions deny these allegations.

“We have not planned any attacks. The drivers who have been running autos and taxis may have become enraged as these corporates are hitting their income. Most of these online taxis don’t have licenses and they run just by registering in the company. It all needs to be legal. But we have never planned any attacks,” said President of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Kerala, Anathalavattom Ananthan.

He added that the prominence of online taxi aggregators is opening up the market for invasion by private capitalists.

Indian National Trade Union Congress leader Satheesan K of Thiruvananthapuram also denied roles of union in such attacks.

“The attacks are not organised by unions. Neither unions nor political parties are involved in them. The attacks are just a reflection of the common sentiment of traditional taxi drivers,” he said. 

What is worrying drivers is that unlike in other states, Uber and Ola cabs in Kerala do not have the names of the aggregators painted on their cars. However, attacks against these cabs still continue to take place.

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