BENGALURU: With IT/BT companies in the city asking their employees to work from home for the next 14 days or so, also people cutting down on travel in the light of the coronavirus outbreak, cab bookings have dropped significantly.
Cab drivers say they have seen a drop in rides, especially to and from the tech corridors such as Electronics City, Whitefield, Marathahalli and also from Kempegowda International Airport.
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“Techies working from home for the next few weeks has resulted in a 30 per cent reduction in cab bookings for us. We are struggling to pay vehicle loan EMIs, home rent, fuel and maintenance of the cab. If we don’t pay, the vehicle will be seized and we will not be given loan from another bank,” said Ramesh Gowda, a member of the Bruhat Bengaluru Taxi Drivers Union. Drivers-cum-owners too have no respite.
Gandasi Sadananda Swamy, president of Indian Vehicle Drivers Trade Union said, “As many as 63 major software companies, including firms in ITPL, Bagmane Tech Park, Infosys, Wipro, RMZ, all the seven Accenture offices in the city, companies in Sarjapur, Whitefield and Bannerghatta and others, tie up with transport companies to ferry lakhs of their employees to and fro daily. With several of them asking their employees to work from home, we are suffering about 40 per cent loss in business.”
“From our average daily earning of Rs 3,000 we pay Rs 1,200 towards EMI and spend on diesel. Now we aren't getting bookings. Drivers of Ola and Uber, who would get individual bookings from techies, are also finding their business dull. Nearly 8,000 cabs ply every day to the Airport and their business is affected too,” Swamy said. The union plans to submit a representation to Minister of IT, BT and ST, Dr N Ashwathnarayan, requesting the government that companies compensate transport agencies with whom they have tie-ups for the work-from-home period.
He said that 1.47 lakh cab drivers are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak and repaying bank loans and paying children’s school fees has become a challenge.
Somashekar K of Namma Chaalakara Trade Union said that passengers who find that the driver is coughing, sneezing and has a cold, do not step into cabs. “In the exam season, booking are generally down for tourist cabs. This time, however, it is much worse and we are not able to even save Rs 500 by end of the day. Companies have asked people to work from home for two weeks and drivers are sitting idle,” he said.
Pre-KG, kindergarten classes suspended
The Department of Public Instruction has ordered all pre-KG, LKG and UKG classes at schools in Bengaluru South, Bengaluru North and Bengaluru Rural to remain closed until further notice.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Suresh Kumar confirmed this in a tweet on Sunday night.
This is a precautionary measure owing to the COVID-19 outbreak and applies to all government, aided and private schools. The order followed a request made by Pankaj Kumar Pandey, Commissioner, Department of Health and Family Welfare, requesting closure of pre-schools.