The relationship between online service providers of cab and bike services and their drivers has always been wobbly; from not offering enough commissions for rides to lacking security for drivers. Cab aggregator companies like Ola and Uber have always found themselves at the centre of some controversy or the other, but in Guwahati, Assam, it has now reached new heights.
What? Even though online cab services are fairly uncommon in the Northeast, these services began in Guwahati in 2015 and are now on the verge of being outlawed. Starting yesterday, February 1, around 18,000 cab drivers and 16,000 Rapido bike riders have all stopped providing their respective aggregator's services.
The action was taken by All Assam Cab Mazdoor Sangha and All Guwahati Bike and Taxi Union. The two associations took the decision to discontinue the services amid the continuous harassment of cab drivers by cab aggregators.
According to their Facebook group, All Assam Cab Mazdoor Sangh, their demand is to 'say goodbye to these services in Assam'.
Claims by Ola and Uber: Uber and Ola, on the other hand, claim that they charge only 20-25% from their drivers. The union already claims that the real commission is far more; however, they have also demanded that the commission be reduced to 10-15%.
Alternatives? However, apart from Ola, Uber and Rapido, there are a few local cab services like Pei India and AM2 in Guwahati that can be used by the locals to book a cab.
Other cab unions across India have also supported the Assam Cab Union's decision. In a Facebook post, the head of Mumbai Cab Associations 'congratulated' them for their 'successful ban' and claimed that they did 'what Mumbai cab associations were not able to do'.
Previously, after months of legal wrangling with the state government in the Bombay High Court over the failure to provide crucial data, including the absence of an operating licence, Rapido announced last month that it will end all of its bike-taxi services in Maharashtra.
The big picture: Cab aggregators like Ola and Uber are notorious for eating into their driver-partners' commissions, and this is an issue that has led to multiple strikes and what not. While both the app-based aggregators provide assurances on 'looking into it' from time to time, the reality is far from their claims. The commission-taking accusations have also led to many cab drivers opting for other alternatives like InDrive in India. However, that app too is not quite the solution.