BENGALURU: A day after the cab driver who allegedly raped a woman in Delhi was caught in Mathura, Bengaluru police got cracking on checking the background of cab drivers working with services such as Uber.
M N Reddi, Police Commissioner, told Express , “I have written to the Transport Commissioner to see what measures they have taken to ensure safety in cabs.” He has suggested mandatory background verification for all cab drivers.
“If previous criminal activity is found, the licence of the driver should be suspended till the Transport Department issues a no-objection certificate,” he said.
Reddi also said he had looked into the safety equipment onboard cabs in the city, and their effectiveness in an emergency.
In the wake of Delhi’s move to ban taxi facilitiation service Uber, officials in Bengaluru are scrambling to ensure no driver with inadequate verification is allowed to ferry passengers.
“RTO officials have been checking cab drivers regularly to see if their documents are up to date. At the time of registering vehicles and applying for permits, drivers submit proof of residence, and this is regularly checked as well,” said Transport Commissioner Ramegowda. Transport officials also check drivers’ names against rowdy sheets to ensure no criminal gets a permit.
Cab safety came into sharp focus in Bengaluru in 2005, after a driver allegedly raped and murdered Hewlett Packard employee Pratibha Murthy. Police then made a security guard mandatory for employees dropped at night. With the advent of GPS tracking, cab companies are also banking on technology to monitor their drivers.
On Monday, online taxi booking services said police verification was a necessary step before drivers could enrol with them.
Siddhartha Pahwa, Group Chief Excutive Officer (CEO), Meru Cabs, said address verification was also done with the help of a registered post sent to the driver’s address.
“Meru keeps biometric records of drivers, besides their licences and car documents. Each driver has to undergo four days of training to deal with women passengers at the Meru Training Academy,” he told Express.
Drivers also go through refresher courses every six months.
The company uses technology to send location updates to trusted contacts every 15 minutes. An emergency button on its app can be used to send out an alarm to trusted contacts.
Anand Subramanian, Marketing Communication Director for Ola Cabs, said drivers using its platform passed a “stringent compliance check.”
Each ride is tracked and records maintained. “Every customer has the option of sharing ride details in real-time with loved ones. We also have a 24/7 call centre that addresses customers’ concerns in real-time,” he said.
Ola relies on the smartphone to keep track of cabs. Subramaniam said, “In the light of the Delhi incident, we are working on creating an additional layer of GPS tracking in all cabs.”