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Uber ban? 'I continue to ferry passengers like any other day'

By Anita Babu and Itika Sharma
Last updated on: December 10, 2014 13:15 IST
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A profession that has become quite lucrative with the advent of Ola Cabs, TaxiForSure and the likes, now hangs in the dark. Anita Babu and Itika Sharma report  

With hope of improving his monthly income, Anurag, 24, a Std X pass from Gurgaon, started driving for internet-based taxi booking service Uber only a week ago.

He'd so far been working with a private taxi operator, earning a few thousands each month. Based on his experience through the first week, he was hopeful that by December-end, he would have made at least Rs 10,000. However, the rape of a passenger by an Uber driver that rocked Delhi over the weekend have left his prospects bleak. Late on Monday evening, the Delhi government banned all web-based taxi aggregators, including Ola Cabs and TaxiForSure. Anurag did not report for duty on Tuesday and is left with a feeling of being cheated after being promised the stars.

Several young men in Delhi share Anurag's sentiment. Until this weekend's crime, most of the drivers perceived the advent of web-based taxi aggregation in India as a boom. Though no clear estimates are there on the number of drivers employed with these new-age taxi companies, rough projections put the number at 3,000 for Uber. After Monday's ban, while some drivers of Uber and others called it a day others continued to ply.

Sunil, a driver with Uber, bought a Maruti Swift Dzire six months back for over Rs 6,00,000. He pays around Rs 10,000 as installment. Sunil said he just switched on his device in the morning like any other day and continued to ferry passengers. “We don't know what to do, there is nobody in the company we can speak to,” he said.

Additionally, Ola was among several companies providing assistance for drivers to buy their own vehicles. Rajesh, a Delhi-based driver who managed to buy his own vehicle with his handsome income and assistance from Meru Cabs over the past two years, had shifted to Uber earlier this year, as the new brand caught customer preference. “On good days, I have been earning over Rs 12,000 a week,” he says. “Now, I have no idea what will happen.”

Though no clear estimates are there on the number of drivers employed with these new-age taxi companies, rough projections put the number at 3,000 for Uber. However, some drivers work across multiple platforms, where they have equipment in their car installed of firms such as Uber, Meru, Ola and TaxiForSure. They take the booking from one company and switch off the other devices.

After Monday's ban, while some drivers of Uber and others called it a day others continued to ply.

Uber management had sent a text message to all its drivers soon after the incident, stating that it condemns the incident and is working with the authorities to sort out the issues. But, after that there has been no communication from the company.

“I don't know how will I pay my installments," said Sunil.

Photograph: UberDelhi/Twitter

 

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Anita Babu and Itika Sharma in New Delhi
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