Ola, Uber Strike: Commuters have complained of surge pricing. (File)
New Delhi: A countrywide indefinite strike by drivers of app-based cab aggregators Uber and Ola hit Mumbai and Delhi hard today. The drivers are facing a drop in their profits following cutbacks in incentive payments and a surge in the number of cabs registered with the two companies. They demand that the two firms make good on their promise of getting them business worth Rs 1.25 lakh a month. The strike is led by the transport union of Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
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In Mumbai, where the strike was centred, commuters complained of long waits and surge in fares due to a dearth in cabs on the road. The worst-hit were people on way to airport or railway stations. Local commuters too, had a hard time.
The strike, which began at midnight on Sunday, is also being held in other cities including Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune, Nashik and Aurangabad.
"We expect the cab companies to come to the table today and discuss with the government how they can come at par with the black and yellow taxis, and other public modes of transport," Sanjay Naik, President of Maharashtra Navnirman Vahtuk Sena, was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
"If there is no meeting or resolution, then we shall decide on our next course of action," he said.
Mr Naik said both Ola and Uber had promised returns of more than Rs 1.25 lakh per month to cab drivers, who invested between Rs 5 and 7 lakh. But now, they are making a fraction of what was promised to them. "Drivers are in huge debt, but firms are favouring those driving company-owned vehicles," Mr Naik said.
In Mumbai alone, there were over 45,000 app-based cabs, but following a slump in business, their numbers have dropped by nearly 20 per cent.
Ola and Uber is yet to respond to the drivers' demand. A spokesperson from Ola cabs said it was too early in the day to measure the impact of the strike. Uber was not available for comment.
The Mumbai police said they are ensuring that necessary steps are being taken for the safety of commuters. Notices have been issued to cab union leaders under Section 149 of CrPC, which prohibits assembly of more than 4 persons.
Other taxi organisations, including the Mumbai Taximen's Union, have lent support to the strike. Its general secretary AL. Quadros demanded that the Regional Transport Authority take strict action against Ola and Uber for violating permit conditions and eating into the business of autorickshaws and taxis.
In 2017, Delhi-based drivers of Ola and Uber had gone on strike demanding a hike in fare. But the strike had petered out after the drivers failed to sustain the day-to-day losses.