K(h)aali-peeli strikes will not do, up the services, vehicles

The recent Mumbai cab strike, which saw a section of cabbies staying off the roads, put Mumbaikars to some inconvenience for two days. It was also very disappointing to see that there was violence on the two days that some cabs were on strike. A 25-year-old media professional travelling in a taxi was chased, manhandled and verbally abused in broad daylight by 10-12 people near Mahim station. While the mob continued to hit the driver, the woman, who didn't want to be named, managed to escape by running to Mahim railway station. Some of the drivers who chose to work on those days had to face hooligans. The woman was dragged out of the cab.

At other times, we have seen some miscreants surround the cab, while they beat up the taxi driver, sometimes they smash windows too. Passengers may be allowed to get out but in that melee they are manhandled at times, or get some very rough treatment because of a crowd. Women are at times, touched inappropriately in all that hullaballoo.

While the black ‘n’ yellow cabs are facing tough competition from private operators, violence is certainly not the answer to this. Even going on strikes is counterproductive because you simply cannot hold people to ransom for so long. If and when pushed to the wall, they will find a way to hit back and other transport avenues will come in to fill the vacuum.

They need to up their service and their vehicles first and foremost, to compete with private operators. Maybe, the unions who claim to have their interests at heart, can teach them to be more accessible via technology. They need to stop refusing fare, the most important tip in order to ensure their survival. In the end, the Mumbaikar will still be loyal to the kaali-peeli but they need to up their game to survive in a cut-throat cab world. Unions need to tell drivers how to keep pulling in passengers instead of encouraging strikes and then blaming frustrations when things take a violent turn. In this way, you are simply putting off people rather than getting them to use the service.

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