Drivers take to streets in Bengaluru as war between taxi aggregators, state goct escalates

Taxi drivers attached to aggregator platforms such as Uber and Ola took to the streets here on Monday, protesting the local transport authority’s move to seize hundreds of vehicles as part of several enforcement drives conducted in the city recently.

Drivers have been caught in the crossfire between the state government and taxi aggregators. Karnataka says Ola and Uber are not complying with the newly-passed rules for taxi aggregators, while both firms say they’ve applied for license to operate in the state.

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“We were the first state in the country to frame aggregator rules. One month has already been lost but they are still not complying with them. We’ve seized vehicles operating on their platform but they are still not willing to listen to us,” said Karnataka’s Transport Minister Ramegowda.

Uber and Ola declined to comment.

Last month, Karnataka mandated that taxi aggregators should register with the local transport authority, not charge more than the state prescribed fare, and that all cabs should have digital meters and a GPS unit installed in them. The drivers, many of whom have to pay EMIs on their loans, say the transport department’s move to seize vehicles has impacted them. While the taxi aggregators have been reimbursing the fine / penalty amounts, the drivers say the aggregators aren’t doing enough to resolve the issue quickly.

Both Uber and Ola have indicated that following the new rules will make their businesses unviable in the state. On several accounts during its two-year stint in India, Uber has sought legal action.

It could once again move court against the Karnataka government.

“The public is very much against Uber and Ola, which are charging multiples of the regular fare through surge pricing, which is why we are regulating fares,” said Ramegowda, adding, “We are not stubborn, we are open for discussion.”

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