Delhi bans bike taxis from city roads. What does it mean for riders' future?
Twenty-nine-year-old Anand Rai is among the many drivers plying bike taxis on the streets of national capital who are staring at an uncertain future after the Delhi government asked ride aggregators to stop the use of private vehicles. These drivers have said that the government should bring in a policy for them, rather than cracking down on them and imposing fines.
The transport department has cautioned bike taxis against plying on the roads of Delhi, warning that it was a violation of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, that would make aggregators liable for a fine of ₹1 lakh. The use of two-wheelers having private registration mark for commercial purposes is in violation of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The first offence could lead to a fine of ₹5,000 while a second offence could incur a ₹10,000 fine and imprisonment of up to a year, the department said in a public notice.
According to officials, 25 drivers have been challaned till Monday for driving bike taxis. They said that it has been observed that aggregators do not check whether the two-wheelers have valid PUCCs and whether the vehicles are overage, which compunds the pollution problem. This has scared the riders, many of whom, are denying bookings coming in from Delhi, to avoid getting penalised.
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Rai, who has been driving with Ola, Uber and Rapido, said that on Tuesday, he received a booking and the customer threatened to get his vehicle seized. "I immediately shut down that app. There is a fear that has crept in regarding bookings from Delhi. I came to Delhi so that I can work with the cab aggregators and drive a four-wheeler. Somehow, I managed to arrange money for a two-wheeler and started driving for the three aggregators," the Azamgarh resident said.
Back home, Rai had his own business of repairing vehicles but he came here for better opportunities. The money he earns, he sends to to his parents and wife. "I bought a second-hand two wheeler by arranging money and now if this is banned, I will try and arrange money for buying a four-wheeler," he said.
Pramod (25) started using a bike given by his father last year after he failed to secure a job. He earns around ₹700 daily. Pramod is from Uttar Pradesh and put up with his father in Yamuna Vihar. The rest of the family lives in Uttar Pradesh. "We send whatever we earn home," he said.
"I am a graduate. But could not get a job so decided to register with Ola and use my bike as a two-wheeler taxi. I earn around rs 500-700 daily. Yesterday somebody was telling me that two-wheeler taxis won't be allowed in the capital. I thought it is not the truth. If something of this sort is being planned, the government should first formulate a scheme to make two-wheeler taxi legal.
"I haven't thought about what I will do if not been able to have Ola taxi. This is so strange. They should think about poor people," he stressed.
Mohammad Amir, aged 23, a resident of Ghaziabad, has been saving money to build a nursing home for his brother, who is studying to be a doctor. "I am a class 10. I started driving the bike taxi in my free time but I earned ₹15000 to ₹20000 every month. Every day we get get round 15 to 20 rides and out of them eight to 10 are of Delhi. If this crackdown intensifies, we will incur huge losses," he said.
Amir said that he can even go back to his ancestral village and work as a farmer, but there are many others, who only earn their livelihood through this. "I am saving money so that my brother, who is pursuing his medical education, can open a nursing home in Ghaziabad. I can still fall back on some other option but there are many others who solely depend on this. The government should think about them," he said.
Govind, another bike taxi driver with a cab aggregator, said that if a driver is challaned, a major portion of his monthly income will go in paying that. "I have been in this profession for six months and earn ₹15,000 to ₹16,000 every month. I also send money back home. If this is intensified, it will be a huge jolt," he said.
Following the Delhi government's public notice cautioning aggregators and bike taxi drivers, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot had said on Monday that that aggregator policy for two-, three- and four-wheelers, is in its final stage and will be rolled out soon helping them to apply for grant of licence under the new scheme.