Crackdown on Rapido bike taxis as time runs out

Crackdown on Rapido bike taxis as time runs out

While the government has consistently maintained a ban on bike taxis, it has not prevented Rapido from displaying advertisements in prime places like metro stations. Picture from MG Road metro station.

The transport authority has renewed the crackdown on Rapido, which continues to “illegally” offer bike taxi services despite repeated warnings.

As many as 128 bikes have been seized so far. However, officials are struggling to shut the platform down a week after they brought to halt a similar service by Ola, slapping a fine of Rs 15 lakh.

Transport Commissioner V P Ikkeri said Rapido was given a notice on March 19, and was given seven days to stop offering bike taxis or face action. Asked whether the department would seek criminal action against the company, he said enforcement was going on and necessary action would follow.

Joint Commissioner for Transport (Enforcement) J Jnanendra said, on March 27, the department received an acknowledgement from Roppen Transportation Services Pvt Ltd, which operates Rapido. Thereafter the firm was given seven days for compliance.

“They have neither replied to the State Transport Authority (STA) nor shut down operations. As per the directions from STA, we have begun enforcement and seized 24 bikes on Wednesday. Registration certificates of two bikes have been suspended,” he said.

Officials at the Regional Transport Office said they could not permit bike taxis till the government takes a stand. “On the one hand, bike taxis offer convenient last-mile connectivity. However, there are concerns about the safety and security of passengers. For example, a passenger will not get insurance in case of an accident. Bike taxis require a clear policy and guidelines,” an official said.

The Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregator Rules 2016, under which Ola has been operating, permits a motor cab to operate as a taxi after obtaining the transport vehicle permit (yellow registration plate). At present, bike taxis can be operated under the rent-a-bike scheme, in which companies like Roppen have to invest money on owning bikes.

Nevertheless, Rapido bikes were functioning until late Thursday evening. The company did not respond to repeated queries.

Meanwhile, ANI Technologies, which operates Ola, has approached the Karnataka high court, seeking a framework within which bike taxis can be operated.