Hold cab firms responsible for safety

The recurrence of such incidents implies that aggregators have not only refused to learn a lesson from them but have taken passenger safety way too casually.

App-based taxi aggregators might have come as a boon for most people in a city like Bengaluru which woefully lacks public transport, but it has also meant that the safety of women is routinely compromised. The latest instance is that of an Ola driver forcibly confining a 35-year-old woman in the car by physically restraining her and even threatening to kill her. Shockingly, the safety mechanism that the aggregator claims to have put in place was simply of no help. When the woman informed Ola on phone about her predicament, she was directed to call 100, the police control room. The passenger then pressed the emergency button in the car, but the response came only after one-and-a-half hours, by which time she had reached a police station after being rescued by passersby. Ola acted with utmost irresponsibility by asking the passenger to contact the control room instead of themselves tracking the vehicle’s location and informing the police. Anything could have happened during the time lapse. 

Drivers endangering the lives of passengers or putting them to undue hardship has become all too common of late. Recently, an Uber driver assaulted and broke the nose of a passenger who was travelling to the airport, for refusing to pay over and above the prescribed rate, that too in advance. A few months ago, a lady, again on the way to the airport, was abandoned by a taxi driver on the deserted and dimly lit Begur road at 3.30 am. Last year, a Kolkata-based model was killed and her face smashed with a boulder by an Ola driver on the same stretch of road. Instead of calling 100 in such situations, it would be advisable for commuters to download the ‘Suraksha’ app and use the emergency button on it, which will enable the police to track the precise location and dispatch a patrol vehicle.

The recurrence of such incidents implies that aggregators have not only refused to learn a lesson from them but have taken passenger safety way too casually. This also points to the failure on the part of the companies to conduct thorough background checks of drivers and to continuously sensitise them to passenger safety. Besides, rules that require drivers to be residents of the state for at least two years and have a knowledge of Kannada are constantly flouted. Unless senior executives of the company are held personally liable and criminal proceedings launched against the aggregator for the unlawful acts of the drivers, passenger safety will continue to be taken too casually by the company and willfully compromised by the drivers.

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