Last weekend’s rape in Delhi by a Uber taxi driver has once again raised the issue of women’s safety in the national capital. However, as the perpetrator was working for rideshare and taxi service, Uber, the spotlight is now on the company which is facing intense scrutiny in India, having already garnered a rather unsavoury reputation in other countries.
The BBC reports that the fallout of the crime has led the Delhi government to banning not only Uber but also other internet-based taxi services in the capital city, thus affecting the livelihood of thousands of drivers.
This is not the first time that the taxi service has been banned. The New York Times
(NYT) reports that Uber is “ducking legal and safety obligations shouldered by ordinary city cabs” and is banned in the Netherlands, Berlin, Hamburg, Vietnam and Thailand.
Ars Technica, a tech website based in the US, reports that Uber terminated its services in Nevada as well as in Toronto, following court orders to shut down. According to Time, the company’s drivers have been accused of sexual assault in San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well.
Time has compiled a list of five cities across the world where Uber’s services face while The Daily Beast lists
The Wall Street Journal says that Uber operates out of a hotel off national highway 8 in Gurgaon. “Staff at the hotel said that Uber had been using three double rooms and a conference room that holds 60 people, to run its operations and training for drivers since Nov. 23,” is how the WSJ describes the India office space of Uber, which has recently been valued at as much as $ 40 billion.
Furthermore, Uber does not do its own background checks of its drivers, but instead relies on checks conducted by the government. Vikas Bajaj, writing in an NYT opinion column says, “It is hard to understand why Uber would rely on the Indian licensing authorities when the company does not do the same thing in the United States.”
NYT says that Uber initially focused on the “luxury segment” in India and the company never had a problem with its premium services. The paper quotes Kunal Lalani, president of the Association of Radio Taxis as saying that risks have increased only when web-based taxi services such as Uber entered the entry-level segment.
Radio taxi operators in India compete directly with services such as Uber and have in the past lobbied the government to level the playing field with aggregators such as Uber and Ola.
The Guardian reports that 7,000 people have signed a petition on
Uber is yet to comment on the banning of its services in Delhi.