THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After initial hiccups, the state government’s online taxi-auto service ‘Kerala Savari’ - modelled on the lines of leading private cab aggregators - is all set to be rolled out in the first week of June. An initiative of the Kerala Motor Transport Workers Welfare Fund (KMTWWF) Board under the Labour Department, ‘Kerala Savari’ is being implemented in coordination with various agencies, including police, Motor Vehicles Department and state IT Mission.
On the eve of the first anniversary of the LDF government, Labour Minster V Sivankutty announced that the service will be launched on a pilot basis in Thiruvananthapuram city. A GPS-enabled mobile app, devised by the central PSU Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) Ltd, will also be rolled out soon.
“Though we had decided to start the pilot project with 100 autos and taxis, the response has been overwhelming. Even without any publicity, we have received over 250 applications, which are being thoroughly vetted,” said Renjith P Manohar, Additional Labour Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, KMTWWF Board.
“The security of passengers will be of prime importance and the GPS-enabled app will have adequate features to address it,” said the CEO. KMTWWF Board is encouraging more and more women auto and taxi drivers to enrol for ‘Kerala Savari’, taking into account the demand from women passengers.
According to the official, thorough background checks of drivers, including police verification, will be carried out before their enrolment. The movement of taxis and autos under ‘Kerala Savari’ will be continuously monitored by various government agencies to ensure the safety and security of passengers.
An official in charge of the project implementation said the drivers who would become part of the initiative would be charged 8% of the revenue unlike private taxi-auto aggregators who charge over 25% of their earnings in some instances.
“After assessing the working of the pilot project in detail, ‘Kerala Savari’ will be rolled out in other cities and then to small towns subsequently,” the official said. Though the project was in the pipeline since 2017 following complaints of fleecing of drivers by private cab aggregators, it faced many roadblocks. Ensuring coordination with a number of agencies involved and the Covid situation had further delayed its implementation.