Karnataka transport dept to crack down on bike taxis today after auto drivers' protest

Auto drivers claim that bike taxis are taking away their business, and have violently attacked their captains.
Last Updated : 04 July 2024, 20:19 IST

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Bengaluru: Bowing to pressure from auto-rickshaw drivers, the Transport Department is launching a crackdown on bike taxis, which it deems "illegal". 

On Thursday, hundreds of auto-rickshaw drivers gathered outside the Transport Department's head offices in Shanthinagar, demanding a ban on bike taxis. 

Auto drivers claim that bike taxis are taking away their business, and have violently attacked their captains. 

The protest, organised by the Federation of Karnataka State Private Transport Associations, which represents 32 mobility-related organisations, presented five major demands. 

Commissioner for Road Safety and Transport Yogeesh A M and other senior officials met the protesters and promised to address their concerns. 

Subsequently, Additional Commissioner of Transport (Enforcement, South) C Mallikarjun instructed M Shobha, Joint Commissioner of Transport (Bengaluru Urban), to form special teams under the Regional Transport Offices to crack down on electric bike taxis and other "illegal" bike taxis. The RTOs are required to submit their inspection reports to the joint commissioner daily. 

Following this, the joint commissioner ordered the city's 10 RTOs and one assistant RTO to start the crackdown on Friday, with assistance from motor vehicle inspectors and home guards. 

The RTOs involved in the enforcement drive include Deepak L (Central), Srinivasappa (West), B Srinivas Prasad (East), V P Ramesh (North), S Mallesh (South), G P Krishnananda (Jnanabharathi), P Umesh (KR Puram), P Ramzan (Electronics City), R Chandrashekhar (Yelahanka), Venkateshalu (Chandapura) and Amaresh Chelva (Devanahalli ARTO). 

A Transport Department official said bike taxi drivers would face a minimum penalty of Rs 5,000 and vehicles impoundment. Authorities will also check for violations related to insurance and pollution certificates. 

Federation president Nataraj Sharma welcomed the drive but insisted they would not rest until bike taxis are completely banned. 

In March this year, the state government scrapped the Karnataka Electric Bike Taxi Scheme, 2021, citing its "blatant misuse". It noted that private two-wheelers (white-board registration) were being used as electric bike taxis. 

OLA (ANI Technologies), which also makes electric vehicles, is the only ride-hailing firm offering e-bike services in Bengaluru. 

Other bike taxi services offered by Rapido, OLA and Uber are also deemed illegal for using personal vehicles with white registration plates. 

Adi Narayana, president of the Bike Taxi Welfare Association, Karnataka, asserted that their operations were protected by high court orders. 

"(The) high court has clearly directed the state government to take action against any person who tries to harass or threaten Uber/Rapido/any bike taxis drivers. We strongly urge that if any such incidents are reported against our bike taxi union members and bike taxi brothers, we will file contempt case against such violating individuals in personal capacity," he said. 

While Sharma told DH that the Transport Department was hand in glove with bike taxi operators, he said officials had promised to submit a memo in the court on Monday to lift the stay order. 

The federation also demanded the implementation of the cab fares notified in February this year, alleging that ride aggregators charge fares arbitrarily. 

According to Sharma, the department also promised to address their demands related to logistics firm Porter, separate permits for school vehicles, online special permits and vehicle tracking devices. 

Published 04 July 2024, 20:19 IST

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