HYDERABAD: Even as the drivers of private taxi aggregators protested against the methods adopted by the companies, an Uber cab driver, who was unable to pay the down payment on a loan taken to purchase his car, ended his life in the city on Sunday.
The driver, Kodaiah alias Praveen (34), consumed poison on Saturday. Praveen, who is survived by a wife and two daughters, succumbed at Gandhi Hospital on Sunday.
“Praveen had been a taxi driver for over two years and joined Uber as a driver seven months ago. He took a TATA Indica V2 car with a down payment of Rs 33,000 financed by a private institution with a monthly down payment of Rs 27,000. He was unable to pay the EMI (Equated Monthly Instalment) for one month and the finance people harassed him. He was able to earn only Rs 20,000 a month,” said a relative of Praveen. When Praveen joined Uber, he was promised that he would be able to earn up to `1 lakh a month, the relative claimed.
“Taxi aggregators have increased the number of taxis but the customer base remains the same. This has been eating into the profits of taxi drivers and many, who have taken cars on EMIs, are struggling to repay the money,” said Shiva Vulkundakar, president, Telangana Cab Drivers and Owners Association (TCDOA).
The union, which is not recognised by taxi aggregators, has been fighting to be heard by both the taxi aggregators and the state government. The union launched a protest from December 30, 2016, to January 5 this year but it failed to evoke any response.
They launched a protest again on Friday and Saturday but had cases of public nuisance slapped against them by the police.
Both Uber and Ola say they will only respond to grievances — “if any” — of individual drivers. An email questionnaire sent to Uber representatives went unanswered while representatives from Ola were unavailable for comment.