App-based cab aggregators Ola and Uber as well as bike taxi aggregator Rapido will continue to operate without licence in Karnataka in the days to come till the state government succeeds in convincing the high court to lift the stay.
At a meeting chaired by Transport Minister B Sriramulu, the department conveyed to the association of taxi and auto rickshaw drivers that it cannot take action against any of the aggregators at the moment.
While all the associations are united in their opposition to the bike taxis, different sections have different complaints about Ola and Uber. Drivers who earn their living by getting passengers through the apps complain of poor earnings which violate the transport department’s guideline fixing the charges per kilometre. Those who run conventional taxis (‘city taxis) oppose the aggregators for their “predatory pricing”.
Transport Commissioner N Shivakumar confirmed to DH that the department was not initiating action against the aggregators, which have challenged the Karnataka On Demand Transport Technology, Aggregators’ Rules 2016 in the Karnataka High Court. “The high court has directed us to hold meetings with the companies and resolve the issues. The companies have submitted applications for renewing the licence. We have held one round of meetings in this regard. We hope to resolve the issue soon,” he said.
Hamid Akbar Ali of the Airport Taxi Owners’ Association said their demand has remained consistent. “It is unfortunate that the punishment for unlicensed operations is applicable only to individual drivers and not to the corporate companies. However, what we are asking is uniform fare and an end to the predatory pricing practised by Ola and Uber. The minister assured us that he will speak to the legal advisers and get the stay vacated in the court,” he said.
Tanveer Pasha of the Ola, Taxi for Sure and Uber Owners and Drivers’ Association said the minister promised to look into the possibility of building an alternative to Ola and Uber apps. “We have cited GoaMiles, Goa’s homegrown app, and the minister said he will see the possibility of incorporating such a model,” he said.
However, Radhakrishna Holla of the Karnataka State Travel Owners Association said the government’s failure to enforce the laws was the reason for illegal taxi operations. In a representation to Sriramulu, he also cited the rules of the department as well as specific guidelines by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways which are not followed by Rapido. “We welcome them if they stick to the rules,” he said.
Watch the latest DH videos: