CHENNAI: About 40,000 call taxis and tourist taxis in Chennai city will go off the roads on Wednesday demanding the government’s intervention in regularising app based cab services such as OLA and UBER. The Tamil Nadu Call Taxi Owners and Drivers Association (TNCTODA) said they were forced to take the decision after three cab drivers in the city allegedly committed suicide due to debts.
The drivers alleged that cab aggregators OLA and UBER take about 27 per cent of their earnings a day. Hence, they have trouble making their ends meet. The drivers also say they are being penalised by the service providers for trivial reasons. “If we drive a car for about 12 to 14 hours a day, we earn Rs 2,000. Nearly 27 per cent of what we should be earning, about Rs 540, is taken away by OLA and UBER.”
After spending for fuel, the drivers said they earn just Rs 460 per day. “With this money, they are not able to run their families,” said P Anbazhagan, president of TNCTODA. He said the workers are being exploited by OLA and UBER, and government has remained a mute spectator. “Many a time, drivers are asked to pick up passengers after travelling for about five to seven kms. When we go as tourist taxi (outside Chennai City) to Kancheepuram, we are forced to pick up passengers at Tiruvallur by travelling more than 30 km at our own expense,” he said.
According to the association, about 32,000 cabs are operated for OLA and UBER in Chennai, while rest of the vehicles run for NTL, Fast track, Friends and other companies. Thus, out of the 40,000 cars, nearly 20,000 cars run by drivers and owners on a shift basis. This means, nearly 60,000 families depended on this service.
The number of cabs increased in Chennai city after many auto drivers migrated to cabs and those newly migrated cab drivers have purchased cars through bank loans.
“I have to pay Rs 15,500 towards EMI every month. If I earn Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 a month, only then will I be able to meet my needs. However, I only get Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 a month, that too after working for nearly 12 to 14 hours a day,” said Thananchezhiyan of Kovilampakkam, a cab driver.
“During night hours, inebriated travellers frequently quarrel with us. Some ask us to drive through roads that are less than five feet in width and if we refuse, we are penalised Rs 500 by OLA and UBER,” he added.
Fix rates, say drivers
Saying that cab drivers are pushed to commit suicide, the association members want the government to fix rates for cab services and reduce OLA and UBER share of 27 per cent to seven per cent