An indefinite strike called by the drivers of the app-based cab aggregators Ola and Uber that commenced on Monday, forced the commuters from Pune to go through difficulties in their daily routine on Monday. The Maharashtra Navnirman Vahtuk Sena, the transport union of Raj Thackeray-led MNS, had declared the strike and a video clip of one of its union leaders, Nitin Nandgaonkar, breaking the windshield of an Ola cab sparked panic among drivers in the morning. The situation on the road, however, was far from it.
End up paying more for rides as Ola, Uber drivers shun streets. "I had to wait for a cab for a long time and the surge price was two to three times the normal fare", said Dheeraj Rana, a regular commuter. Around 10 am, commuters travelling towards Lower Parel or South Mumbai saw their fares rise by 1.5-4 times their regular fares. "I pay around Rs 100 every day to reach Lower Parel from Wadala, but today due to the strike, I had to pay around Rs 180 to reach the same location". Its General Secretary A.L. Quadros demanded that the Regional Transport Authority take strict action against Ola and Uber for violating permit conditions and eating into the business of autorickshaws and taxis. "We want the companies to stick to their promise of providing income of Rs 1.25 lakh per month to these drivers", Sanjay Naik, leader, Maharashtra Navnirman Vahatuk Sena. "The drivers are unable to repay loans and run their families even after driving for over 12 hours", said a driver who operates his vehicle for both Ola and Uber. Uber sees its driver-partners, which is at about 3 lakh strong now in India, growing 5-10x in the next three years. As a major amount of taxi drivers stay off the road, Uber and Ola are certainly using this to earn even more profit by implementing a surcharge of twice or even thrice in certain areas.
In another claim made by the drivers, the company Ola is cheating them by prioritising the company owned car's revenue over self-owned vehicles.
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Other taxi hailing unions, including the Mumbai Taximen's Union and Swaraj Vahan Chalak Malak Sanghatna have also extended their support and would be going ahead with the strike if their demands are not being fulfilled. The notices were issued under Section 149 of the Criminal Procedure Code to prevent unlawful assembly. A senior police officer said they were investigating the incident.
Over 45,000 cabs are attached to Ola and Uber in Mumbai alone.
Union president Sanjay Naik told TOI thousands of driver partners are supporting the stir.