In a desperate measure to show their strength, the taxi union of the Nitesh Rane-led Swabhimaan Sanghatana went on strike yesterday. Although there were many black-and-yellow taxis plying on the road in the morning, the number kept dwindling as the day progressed.

Commuters wait for taxis near Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central
Commuters wait for taxis near Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central

“We don’t want cabs of services like Uber, Ola and other app-based aggregators to ply on the roads as it affects taxi drivers. We will also oppose the proposed law, which plans to include them legally,” said K K Tiwari, union leader for Swabhimaan Sanghatana. The union members claimed that they had managed to prevent all black-and-yellow taxis from plying on the road by 5 pm.

Sources in the RTO said that commuters at most of the railway stations, especially where long distance-trains arrive, were badly hit by the strike. These included CST, Mumbai Central, Kurla LTT and Dadar, among others. The Swabhimaan Sanghatana claims it has 18,000 auto rickshaw owners and 12,000 taxi owners as its members.

While the largest union of taxi owners in the city, led by A L Quadros, did not participate in the strike, it could not stop its members from staying off the road. “The members and goons of Swabhimaan Sanghatana threatened our drivers and also damaged our taxis in areas like Wadala, Worli, Kurla and Mumbai Central,” said Quadros. Thus, the drivers didn’t ply their vehicles out of fear.

Taxi users across the city were inconvenienced and the share-taxi and prepaid stands outside most railway stations were also not working as taxis remained off road.