Yesterday’s protest was carried out by the drivers outside the Ola office in Chakala and continued outside the Uber office in Kurla’s Phoenix Marketcity Mall till around 2.30 pm. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Yesterday's protest was carried out by the drivers outside the Ola office in Chakala and continued outside the Uber office in Kurla's Phoenix Marketcity Mall till around 2.30 pm. Pic/Nimesh Dave

The protests by Uber and Ola drivers aren't going to die down anytime soon. The drivers' group - Action Committee of Maharashtra against Uber and Ola - plans to protest again on March 14 at Azad Maidan and give the officials from both Ola and Uber time to hold a meeting on either March 15, 16 or 17. If the officials don't fulfil their demands, they plan to go on an indefinite strike on March 21.

It'll get worse
"The presence of cars on the apps has gone down substantially since the protest, the coming days will only be worse," said driver Junaid Sayed, vice president of Sangharsh Chalak Malak Sangh, and also a registered driver with Uber and Ola.

The drivers claimed that their earnings have taken a hit over the months due to carelessness of the aggregator companies.Yesterday's protest, which was carried out by the drivers outside the Ola office in Chakala, continued outside the Uber office in Kurla's Phoenix Marketcity Mall till around 2.30 pm. With the city having 70,000 Ola and Uber drivers, the protest on March 14 is expected to be a big one.

Results for demands
"We have given our demands to both Ola and Uber in writing, and now we want to give them time to give us a result. There is a driver from Chembur whose family has left him because he couldn't provide to the family. That is the situation; and we need an immediate solution," added Sayed.

Another issue adding fuel to the fire is the compulsory switch to cleaner fuels CNG and LPG, as mandated by the recently introduced City Taxi Scheme. The drivers claim that to segregate and eventually take over the market, Ola is introducing only CNG cars, which is the biggest reason behind the protest. "The purpose was to wipe the present set of drivers out. We are a huge group, and our lives depend on this trade. The government needs to recognise that before the private players play tricks for their own benefit," said Raju Patil, another cab driver.

Orange is the new...
The drivers have also demanded revoking the policy's suggestion to have a common colour for all app-based cabs. The government has suggested 'yellow daffodil' as the colour, which was closer to saffron in the government's prototype unveiled on Saturday. The drivers say the colour switch would be heavier on their pockets, thanks in part to the money they would have to shell out for the new permit from the state. "The new rule would mean that we would lose our national permit and pay Rs 40,000 to acquire the state permit. Vehicles running on diesel would have to pay a heavier price," said Sufiyaan, from the Mumbaikar Vikas Foundation, who is supporting the drivers.

"Our main demand is to have a say in the policy-making process. When we were employed, we were termed partners, and now they are kicking us out because they have other options. It is unfair, especially for people who have already taken loans to buy the vehicle. The company cannot take us for granted like this," said Junaid Sheikh. Meanwhile, as a result of the strike, surge pricing on the apps skyrocketed with fares going four to five times higher than usual.