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Drivers left in a limbo as Delhi govt bans app-based taxi operators

With hopes of improving his monthly income, 24-years-old Anurag started driving for internet-based taxi booking service Uber just one week ago. So far he had been working with a private taxi operator and earning a few thousands each month. However, based on his experience through the first week, he was hopeful that by the end of December, he would have made at least Rs 10,000.

But the incident of rape that rocked New Delhi over the weekend have left his prospects bleak.

Following the alleged rape by an Uber driver, Delhi government no late Monday evening banned all web-based taxi aggregators, including Ola Cabs and TaxiForSure.

A tenth-pass resident of Gurgaon, Anurag, did not report on duty on Tuesday and is left with a feeling of being cheated after being promised the stars.

Perhaps several other young men in Delhi share Anurag’s sentiment. Until this weekend’s incident, most of these drivers perceived the advent of web-based taxi aggregation in India as a boom. It was not just clientele that these drivers got from the taxi aggregators. Amid fierce competition, companies like Ola Cabs and TaxiForSure have made a taxi drivers’ job far more lucrative than before. Besides the daily income they earn, taxi drivers are offered other perks such as expensive gifts on festivals and bonuses for good performance.

Additionally, several companies such as Ola Cabs also provide assistance for cab drivers to buy their own vehicle through initiatives relating to ‘driver entrepreneurship’.

Rajesh, a Delhi-based driver, who managed to buy his own vehicle thanks to his handsome income and assistance from Meru over the last two years, also shifted to Uber earlier this year as the frenzy of the new brand caught customers. “On good days, I have been earning over Rs 12,000 a week,” he says. “But now I have no idea what will happen!”

While discussing his fears about his bleak future, he can’t resist but share grievances over incidents where Meru “looted him” in the name of discounting for customers, etc. But that’s a separate topic.

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