Bengal govt referees app-cab conflict
The state government has convened a meeting of taxi aggregators Uber and Ola and their driver partners on Thursday to settle a dispute over payments that has started affecting passengers.
Uber and Ola have accused a section of their driver partners of defaulting on payment of the 20 per cent share of fares collected in cash. The driver partners have their own set of grievances such as being temporarily blocked from the platform on the basis of complaints from passengers about behaviour or some other issue.
The government has decided to hear out both sides with the primary objective of protecting the interest of app-cab users, an official of the transport department said.
“There are charges and counter-charges. We would like to hear out both the taxi aggregators and their driver partners. The idea is to ensure that under no circumstance app-cab availability is hit.”
The official allayed apprehension that the government would meddle into how the app-cab ecosystem works. “The government is not here to interfere in any business model. The only thing we insist on is that passengers should not be at the receiving end of problems caused by internal issues.”
On Christmas Day, groups of protesters stopped app-cabs in Park Circus, Behala and Chowringhee and forced the passengers to alight. Those who resisted were allegedly pulled out. The protesters argued that app-cab drivers should be united in the fight against the allegedly flawed policies of Ola and Uber.
The relationship between driver partners and taxi aggregators has been a stormy one. Drivers often complain about the allegedly autocratic behaviour of the two main operators.
In October, a section of Uber drivers had staged a protest outside the US-based company’s office in Ballygunge for being blocked on the basis of complaints or low ratings.