On Friday morning, thousands of drivers working for the cab hailing services, Uber and Ola, went on an indefinite strike protesting against their employers for better perks, relaxed hours for targets, accident insurance, among other things. A large number of drivers had gathered at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, with some of the leaders sitting on a hunger strike. In the process, people who have begun to rely on Uber and Ola for their daily transportation in these few years, were left with fewer options for transportation, and if at all they got one, the prices peaked sky high, with riders having to pay two to three times surged price of what they usually pay. Also Read - Uber cab service resumed in 31 cities in India with new Lockdown 4.0 guidelinesAlso Read - Uber launches 'Uber Connect' package delivery service to rival Dunzo and Swiggy Genie
To understand my point, it is also essential to know that, the union of the drivers working for Uber and Ola, had warned the companies of the protest almost a month ago, in a situation where there said demands weren t met. Additionally, the large protest that was held in New Delhi wasn t the first time these companies faced such a strike by their employees. About a month before the Delhi protest, a similar strike was observed by Uber and Ola drivers in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Also Read - Uber to operate 'Essential' cab service to hospitals and pharmacy stores in 4 cities
Now, despite, all the warnings by their employers, and the opportunity to anticipate the crisis, learning from the incident at Bengaluru and Hyderabad. When the protests hit New Delhi and National Capital Region, both the services were absolutely unprepared. BGR India reached out to Ola and Uber to know how they are working to provide some relief to its users, however, we still await any response.
Neither were the riders notified in any way of such a protest, nor was any plan B worked out considering there was going to be a natural inconvenience to the riders. Instead, for no reason, one fine day, riders woke up to brutally high prices on Uber and Ola on Friday.
Nonetheless, you would think, at least after a day of protest these cab-hailing services would have something figured out, but now it s been almost four days, and the cab availability woes continue, with no relief to the riders. I too am an ardent user of Uber and Ola for years now. I prefer taking a cab over driving a car around, you know adding to the pollution and traffic and all. On Friday, as I wrote in my first-person account, I had to struggle for over an hour to find myself a cab, for which I ended up paying twice as much I usually pay for the distance between my home and office. And today, I was forced to work from home, because auto rickshaws are not an option where I live, and the cab drivers are all on a protest.
And I am not the only one who is facing such issue. Dhun Chhokar, a freelancing videographer, who travels a lot given her work profile, is a frequent user of Ola Cabs. However, the unpreparedness of the companies is hurting the consumers directly. She says, The driver protest in the city has been pretty inconvenient. To avoid traffic and long distance drives, I often use cabs, which is now not possible due to the ongoing strike. Auto is my second best option, but now, the autowalas are charging double the rate. Now in this situation, travelling is neither economic, nor convenient for me. ALSO READ: Ola, Uber may soon get dedicated parking space at Indian railways stations
Another user, Dhruv Khandelwal, who is an entrepreneur and hires a cab every other day from Delhi to his factory in Gazhiabad says, If my family members take all the cars in the house, since the protest, I am now left stranded at home, until one of the car comes back. I have no metro stations nearby that connect me to my office, and one odd Uber that I am able to find are all charging exorbitant fares.
Twitter too has been abuzz with the stories of being stuck and stranded due to the protest.
This Uber Ola strike is such a pain. After an hour of cancellations, no rides available when I finally got a share cab…..
— Ray Stings (@Purba_Ray) February 12, 2017
Uber (on strike): costs rs 500 frm airport. Meru (unavailable) Rs 800. Carsonrent: rs 1600. Available. So u take it. No country for aam admi
— Anoothi Vishal (@AnoothiV) February 12, 2017
@Purba_Ray people are stopping cabs at various places. My frnds cab was stopped at delhi noida border.
— (@prouddilliwali) February 12, 2017
Rashpal Singh (@rashysingh) February 10, 2017
Uber Ola strike in Delhi. Had to take an auto like good old days of 300 BC.
Trendulkar (@Trendulkar) February 10, 2017
Now, a recent report by PTI claimed that the indefinite strike by drivers working with Ola and Uber were called off partially on Sunday as five unions agreed to run taxis in Delhi NCR following the government s assurance. However, Sarvodaya Driver Association of Delhi (SDAD), which claims to represent 1.5 lakh of drivers in the National Capital Region (NCR), said it has not withdrawn its strike which will also continue on Monday. ALSO READ: Uber, Ola drivers strike: Delhi Transport Minister assures fulfillment of demands
While five drivers unions, out of six, have reportedly withdrawn support their from the strike, commuters have still not had any respite from the high fares and cab unavailability. Additionally, the protest has now also begun to become a law and order issue, with the situation edging towards violence, where drivers are now forcing their colleagues to switch off their devices and refuse any rides. Now, it can only be seen how Uber and Ola work to tackle this situation, and how soon will the riders face a respite.
BONUS VIDEO: Asus Zenfone 3S Max (ZC521TL) Review