Cab services to Bengaluru airport disrupted after cabbie who set himself ablaze dies

The government will make a decision on hiking Ola and Uber cab fares next week
Last Updated : 31 March 2021, 20:01 IST

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Cab services from Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) were disrupted between late evening on Tuesday and 6 pm on Wednesday after a KSTDC taxi driver killed himself over poor earnings, leading to a flash protest by cab drivers.

The cabbies were protesting against the government’s failure to create a level playing field between conventional and aggregator taxis. KIA Taxi Drivers and Owners Welfare Association president Ramesh Gowda said the deceased Pratap Kumar K of Ramanagara set himself ablaze at the airport due to debt and poor earnings.

“On February 1, the state government raised the fares of conventional taxis but provided undue advantage to Ola and Uber taxis by not hiking the fares. Pratap started work on Monday and after 18 hours, got only one booking. The lack of earnings amid mounting debts and other financial commitments drove him to kill himself,” Gowda said.

Under an agreement with the airport authorities, the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) runs conventional taxis where the fare is calculated on a per km basis on digital fare meters. However, the aggregators introduce dynamic prices as they exploit the area between minimum and maximum fare bandwidth.

“The KSTDC’s airport taxis charge Rs 24/km. However, the aggregators exploit the situation by offering services at lower rates at the airport to ensure we don’t get the bookings. For example, a commuter in an aggregator taxi pays Rs 2,300 from Electronics City to KIA but on the return direction, the fare is just Rs 690. The dynamic pricing should stop immediately,”
he said.

Gowda said all KSTDC drivers stayed away from work. “There was no bandh call and we made efforts to ensure taxi services will not come to a grinding halt. Many colleagues driving Ola and Uber cabs also joined us. There were some delays,” he said.

Tanveer Pasha, president of Ola and Uber Drivers and Owners Association, said the low fares for aggregator cabs was a big injustice to drivers. “The companies are benefitting with their 30% cut in our earnings but we are running cabs. We support the demand of conventional taxi service providers. There should be a flat fare for all,” he said.

Several passengers who arrived at the airport complained of delays in the arrival of taxis. Some took the Vayu Vajra bus services provided by BMTC but many preferred to wait up to one hour for cabs.

Pasha said there was no strike but many Ola and Uber drivers stayed away from work voluntarily. “There are 50,000 drivers working with aggregators split into several groups. Hence, there was only a delay in cab service. The Transport Department has taken four days to revise the fares to reflect the fuel price and general inflation. If our demands are not met, on April 6, we will decide on an indefinite strike,” he said.

Decision on cab fares next week

The government will make a decision on hiking Ola and Uber cab fares next week. Drivers of both conventional and aggregator cabs met Principal Secretary, Transport Department Ajum Parvez and demanded a hike in fares. “We are going through a proposal sent by the transport commissioner. A decision will be taken within the next four days,” he said.

Published 31 March 2021, 08:38 IST

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