Twitter fights to fake bookings: Delhi cops declare war on Uber as drivers take protest to Secretariat
A day after the Delhi government rejected fresh applications for licence by US-based taxi booking firm Uber and two other such service providers - Ola and TaxiForSure, drivers who have partnered with these cab aggregators protested outside the Delhi secretariat.
"Hum sab driver log Ola, Uber, TaxiForSure par lage ban ki vajah se parasheshan hai. Humari Rozi roti cheen li gaye hai (We drivers are all troubled by the ban imposed on Ola Ola, Uber, TaxiForSure. They have taken away our livelihood)," said an worried driver who was seen outside the Delhi secretariat, waiting to meet transport minister Gopal Rai.
Vijender Malik, who led the team of drivers that met Rai said, “The minister has said that the government is in favour of drivers continuing to pursue their work. The ban will be lifted if our companies provide details of all drivers and vehicles.”
On Wednesday Delhi Traffic Police officials set up their own accounts on these cab aggregators and called taxis only to challan the drivers when the reached the pickup location as the three operators— Ola, Uber and TaxiForsure don’t have licenses to operate in the state. Prior to this, traffic police were relying on catching cars dispatched through the companies apps by flagging them down on the road, but that was tough since most of the cars are not marked.
The move follows the companies’ failure to provide evidence that they are abiding by a state-wide ban on the services.
A top Delhi Govt official told PTI on Wednesday, “We have continuously been asking Uber, Ola Cabs and TaxiForSure to give a affidavit since March this year, stating that they are complying ban order imposed on them in December last year, but they did not do the same. We have today rejected their applications for licence”
When Muktesh Chander, Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) today questioned why Ola and Uber are still operating in Delhi despite the ban, Uber replied on Twitter saying it was on account of it concerning the livelihoods of 'lakhs'.
.@mukteshchander Lakhs of hard-working livelihoods at stake b/c of this unilateral enforcement. We appeal to your office to resolve amicably
— Uber Delhi (@Uber_Delhi) June 4, 2015
According to Chander the aggregators are 'continually playing a cat-and-mouse game with authorities. The reason for the impounding was not because the cabs did not have a radio taxi license but because they were conducting journeys within the city using an All India Tourist Permit, which only allows trips between states and not point to point within the city limits.
Both Uber and Ola applied for licences in New Delhi but kept operating while approvals were pending.
Uber Delhi’s general manager Gagan Bhatia said in statement Wednesday that that the rejection of the company’s license was “unfortunate,” indicating that the company would apply again once federal guidelines were in place for registration.
“We welcome the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with the Delhi government to seek necessary permissions,” Bhatia said.
The ban on all cab aggregators was ordered by Delhi Government after one of the Uber drivers was accused of raping a women passenger when she was traveling in hired Uber cab. Interestingly, even though this ban was implemented, none of the cab aggregator apps had stopped their operations in the national capital.
The Aam Aadmi Party t has clearly said that they will not consider applications for license from any app-based taxi operators unless they comply with existing ban imposed on them. As per new radio taxi cab rules that are expected to be released shortly, all taxi providers will need to maintain a separate call centre and will need to provide details to transport department.
For Ola and TaxiForSure a separate call center should not be a problem, but for Uber this is a completely different structure. However, given that it has already adopted many firsts in India, it will be interesting to see if it would adhere to these rules in the capital.
One thing is clear: An outright ban is no solution. The government must not hinder innovation in business models and technology. Instead it should work with these companies in a manner that allows modification of rules and procedures so that everyone in India can utilise such innovative business models in the most effecieint manner.