COIMBATORE: The citizens of Coimbatore have reportedly taken well the introduction of bike taxi service in the city. Not only does it reportedly come at a cheaper price, it also addresses the chief problem that regular taxi services could do little about -- snaking out of the peak-hour congestion. While it does seem like an ideal mode of transport, questions have been raised about the legality of the business. Though the private firm providing the service has already broken ground in a handful cities in Tamil Nadu, Transport officials reveal that they have already begun taking action against riders working for the company.
Mere months after the introduction of the bike taxi service by the private firm Rapido, it has become a popular alternative to the cabs. Not only has it reportedly been gaining more customers, many seem to show interest in working for the service. Despite the growing demand, the service is said to be in violation of Transport Department norms.
According to the department’s Joint Commissioner K R Krishnamoorthy, the company does not have a permit to function in Tamil Nadu. While officials have already seized more than eight two-wheelers associated with the firm and imposed a heavy fine, they were having trouble taking action against everyone involved. “We are having trouble accessing the app; they do not respond to us when we try to avail of their service. However, we still take action based on complaints. People should be aware of the illegality of the business and not respond to the service simply because it is cheap,” he suggests.
Lack of permit can put customers’ lives at risk, he points out. In case of mishap, one cannot claim insurance for a vehicle that does not have permit, he explains. However, Gowtham of Ramanathapuram — a college student who works part-time for Rapido — claims that the company offers customers an insurance of up to Rs 5 lakh, in case of death due to the accident; the captains are covered for Rs 3 lakh. The coverage for injury is Rs 37,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively, he says.
Employees in trouble?
Any action against the firm could spell trouble for over 500 riders employed by it. On the other hand, there seem to be many perks. Gowtham is one such beneficiary. A part-time job as a captain helps solve his financial problems. With the company not imposing strict working hours or conditions, it is a very convenient job, he says. “I usually work from 6 pm to 11 pm. There is no compulsion to work a particular number of hours. I am provided with incentives and I manage to earn up to `300 per day,” he explains.