BENGALURU: In what could be the strictest action taken by the transport department against taxi aggregator Ola, the company was asked to hand over its operating licence as part of a suspension order issued on Monday. Ola did not give a satisfactory answer as to how it had launched bike-taxi services in the city recently, in the absence of a licence, department officials said.
Under the Karnataka On Demand Transportation Technology Aggregator Rules 2016, licences were issued to both Ola and Uber to operate ride-hailing taxis. Bengaluru is a major market for Ola, and with its suspension, the company will most likely have to take its cabs off the roads.
However, on Friday, Ola continued to operate cabs normally, in the absence of a crackdown by the department. The company termed the move unfortunate, but did not elaborate if it will take its fleet offline. Earlier this year, the department had cracked down on companies operating bike-taxis.
What Ola said
We are evaluating all options to find an amicable solution wherein hundreds of thousands of driver-partners in the state can continue to work and serve the mobility needs of our citizens, Ola said in a statement
‘Ola cabs will have to go off roads for six months’
While the government has expressed interest in framing rules governing bike-taxis in the past, there has been no development so far, and these services continue to remain illegal. It could not be confirmed if Ola had returned its licence by Friday evening. Officials also filed an FIR against bike-taxis seized recently.
The suspension order said, “The department summoned ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd to demand a clarification within seven days on 5th March, 2019. However, the submission of the said aggregator in the matter was not justified and satisfactory, under which the existing licence of the app-based aggregator will be suspended for a period of six months and suspension of operations with immediate effect.”
A transport department official said, “Citing clear violation by the app-based aggregator, a decision has been taken to suspend their licence for six months. Cabs will either have to go off roads, or they can approach court by challenging the notice within three days of receiving the suspension order. We believe they have already received this notice,” the official said.
Notification unfortunate: Ola
In a statement, Ola said, “Ola is a law-abiding company that has always worked with the government to develop livelihoods, improve mobility, and enable a new technology industry. We are evaluating all options to find an amicable solution wherein hundreds of thousands of driver-partners can continue to work and serve the mobility needs of our citizens.
We have been closely working with the authorities on this topic, responding to queries and making proactive representations to the ministry. Despite other firms continuing to operate illegally, Ola halted our bike taxi experiment weeks ago, instead seeking the state’s cooperation to develop a legal framework for a pilot that will continue to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the mobility economy. This notification is unfortunate, and we look forward to an opportunity to address these concerns directly with state officials to find a solution for our driver-partners and Ola users.”