Chaos has gripped New Delhi, which is witnessing a severe commutation crisis owing to the strike by the drivers of the cab-aggregator services including the America-based Uber and its home-grown arch-rival Ola. Commuters faced delays on the fifth consecutive day on Tuesday in the National Capital Region (NCR), which enjoys tremendous connectivity thanks to Delhi Metro, the cab services and the buses run by the state transport department.
The situation is likely to continue on Wednesday as more cab-driver unions have decided to show support by joining the strike. Though the state government has laid extra buses to facilitate commutation, the face-off between the cab-aggregators and the cab-drivers has left the commuters hapless. The condition is such that both Ola and Uber are facing shortage of cabs to offer to the stranded commuters, who are now being forced to switch to an auto-rickshaw for travelling.
The problem began when the app-based cab-aggregators lured in the cab-drivers to join their fleet promising them monthly earnings of upto Rs 1 lakh. As these cab-aggregators expanded their fleet, the fare of rides went down drastically. In order to maintain their own profit margins, these app based services not only reduced the incentives that these drivers earned but also increased their penalty, should the ride get cancelled.
While Uber operates in 28 cities across the country and has 2,00,000 drivers supporting its fleet, Ola on the other hand is present in 102 cities and has a fleet of 4,50,000 cars. The competition coupled with dynamic pricing has made the matters worse for these cab-drivers.
Following the change in the operational strategies of these services, the monthly earnings of these cab-drivers, who once used to earn over one lakh every month, has now gone down to less than Rs 30,000 a month in some cases, leaving some struggling to pay for the car loans that they availed after joining these app-based services.
Earlier, Uber welcomed the Delhi High Court’s orders restricting union leaders from prohibiting the ‘Uber driver partners’ from riding their cars. While Uber said that the Delhi HC’s orders should help the drivers to get back behind the wheel, Ola is yet to break it silence on the issue.