She Taxi cabbies in Kerala drive into uncertainty

She Taxi drivers in the state are staring at an uncertain future as their contract with Technopark-based Rain Concert Technologies handling the fleet operations ends on Wednesday.

Published: 30th August 2017 10:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th August 2017 10:26 AM   |  A+A-

She Taxi initiative

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE:  There appears to be no full stops to the woes of women cabbies. She Taxi drivers in the state are staring at an uncertain future as their contract with Technopark-based Rain Concert Technologies Ltd handling the fleet operations ends on Wednesday.

Without the back-end fleet operational service, the drivers will not be able to deliver their service properly and get paid for it. 

In a meeting held two months ago, the women drivers were briefed by officers of Gender Park (an autonomous institution promoted by the Social Justice Department) the fleet operations will be handled by the Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation (KSWDC) from September 2017. However, the drivers are yet to get a confirmation on this.

“We have not received any official confirmation regarding the fleet operations from Gender park or KSWDC,” She Taxi driver Shiny Pramod of Kochi told Express.

“We have been told to take trips on our personal behalf after August 30. There exists a great deal of uncertainty in the whole process. We are yet to receive payments for several trips undertaken. The state government or the department concerned has not bothered to address the issue.”

So far, the fleet operations were handled by Rain Concert and they had set up a round-the-clock call centre for the purpose. The GPS-based tracking system, tablet, safety alert switches for drivers near the seat and passenger safety alert switches were installed in the vehicles by the company.

The drivers had to pay 13 per cent from the trip fare to the company. Now, the drivers are plagued by security concerns as these safety equipment will be removed from all vehicles and there will be no call centre to monitor their service.

“Now, we are told to return the safety equipment. With this, there is no way to guarantee the safety of drivers or the passengers,” said Mini Latheesh, another She Taxi driver in Kochi. 

It was in 2013, the all-women cab network was rolled out by Gender Park. Though the project was touted as the first-of-its kind in the country, the struggle of the women cabbies has been so immense since its launch. Several drivers have availed loans from KSWDC.

Some others with no assets to pledge have taken loans from private banks. KSWDC had given loans to the beneficiaries at eight per cent interest rate over a repayment period of six years. Forget EMIs, the drivers are even otherwise finding it difficult to make ends meet. With loans due by several months, many of them had received intimation from the corporation their property will be attached if they failed to repay the amount. The project has also been hit hard by the emergence of online cab operators. 

“There are very few takers for the service here. We hardly earn Rs 4,000 per month and we need Rs 14,000 to pay the EMI. We are actually in trouble,” said Jeeja K, a cabbie in Kozhikode. Gender Park CEO P T Mohammed Sunish, “The project has been handed over to KSWDC. Now, they have to develop this model. An app will be developed to facilitate booking of trips and safety features will be re-installed in the vehicles. We hope to make it happen within a month or two.” 

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