BENGALURU: After a 32-year-old woman working with a private firm lodged a complaint against an Ola cab driver, the Airport police have issued a notice to the cab aggregator asking them to respond within two days. On the other hand, the police detained the driver on Thursday and questioned him about the woman’s allegations.
The woman, via a friend on Facebook, shared her ‘ordeal’ with an Ola cab driver at about 3.30 am on September 30. According to the complaint filed by Aparna (name changed), she had hired the cab from the airport to Indiranagar. While the cab was heading towards Begur, she insisted that the driver take Ballari Toll Road. But he told her that he was following the navigation shown in the App.
While Aparna had given a slightly different version on the driver leaving her on Begur road, according to sources, the first person to contact the Ola team was the driver who had called Partner Care. The driver then gave the phone to the customer and the agent had advised the driver to take Ballari Road. Within two minutes, the customer clicked the safety button on the App and contacted the customer care directly.
TNIE found that the woman had received an email at 3.47 am from Ola requesting her to share an alternative number as the team was unable to get in touch with her. Sources said that a 3.41 am email she received mentioning the issue was resolved, was an automated one for the agent transferring her call to a supervisor.
The driver has been suspended from the platform since a complaint was raised with the police.
Ola issued a statement saying, “Safety of customers is a top priority for us and we have taken several proactive measures in this regard such as multiple levels of driver verification, 24/7 helpline, in-App emergency button to name a few. We are closely working with the authorities to further integrate solutions that will help create a safe and reliable mobility experience in our cities.”
The spokesperson added, “As per the advisory issued by the authorities, we have issued strict instructions to all driver-partners to access the city only through the toll-road; any deviations will lead to immediate termination from the platform.”
Aparna told TNIE that she has rewritten the complaint on Thursday evening, but “I am yet to receive the FIR.”
An FIR has been filed under IPC sections 336 and 491.
Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao, who learned about the incident, tweeted saying the driver had been detained and stated that “the culpability of cab aggregator is being established”.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (North-East) Bheemashankar S Guled said they had taken the case on Monday itself and the driver had been traced. “There is a lacuna on the part of Ola as a service provider and will be dealt as well,” he tweeted.
Guled told TNIE, “According to the driver, he was following the directions of the map. He should have listened to the customer when she insisted on taking a particular route. So far, there is no cognizance in the woman’s complaint. We will take necessary action in the case.”
According to an investigating officer, the driver did not have any bad intention of misbehaving, robbing her valuables or to cause any problem but wanted to save the toll money and pocket it. Since the App showed the route towards Begur Road he had taken it.
“We have warned him strictly, but the woman had come to re-write her complaint, we will see what changes she makes and act accordingly. The technology is so advanced that Ola has to take an initiative to coordinate with the people who have designed the App, and ensure only toll road option is shown for the trips to KIA.”
Aggregator should be accountable: Drivers’ forum
“A big issue drivers face is when the navigation shows one route, but customers insist on an alternative one. If customer care would have responded properly, she wouldn’t have panicked. So Ola management should be held accountable. We will reach out to the police on Friday and request them to register a case under Section 338, which entails endangering a person’s safety. Ola does not include the toll fee, and collects parking charges as well from the drivers. So they are forced to take a route which does include the toll fee,” said Tanveer Pasha, president, Ola Uber Drivers Association.