The unacceptable and indecent behaviour of traditional taxi and auto drivers towards passengers hiring online taxi services like Uber and Ola has become a common issue in Kerala these days. The Kochi Post had reported an incident that happened to Vidya Gopalakrishnan who had posted a video on YouTube a couple of weeks ago of auto drivers at Ernakulam South Railway Station questioning her and arguing that Uber drivers are not allowed to enter the railway station premises and pick up passengers. The video also showed the behaviour of these auto drivers towards the Uber driver, who was manhandled and threatened for picking up passengers from the railway station.
Despite the video going viral and raising many questions about the commitment of the police force on the issue, a similar incident happened with singer Sayanora Philip, who got down at the Ernakulam North Railway Station at 3.30 a.m. and was obstructed by auto drivers for hiring a Uber taxi. She has posted a video describing her ordeal on her official Facebook page. In the video, she said that her Uber driver was manhandled at the station. She also said that as a woman she felt unsafe being asked to cancel her ride and hail the Uber from outside the station. She also appealed to the authorities to arrive at a solution to this problem that the public is facing.
In the video she says she is not aware whether any such rule that prevents Uber, Ola drivers from picking up passengers from within the premises of the railway station and bus stations. The fact, however, is that no such rule exists and the cab drivers are free to pick the passengers from where they are.
In our previous report, The Kochi Post had also explained the legality of the issue and added the interim order issued by the Kerala High Court, which clearly says that online taxi services like Uber and Ola have every right to pick and drop passengers from any location selected by the person who books the ride. The order also stresses that the police force of the city is responsible to check whether the order is being followed and facilitate the smooth functioning of such services in the city.
Sayanora later posted another video thanking people for supporting her on the issue. She also filed an official complaint regarding the same.
Such incidents can only be curbed if more people speak up about the same and if the authorities adopt stringent laws to stop this problem.
Main photograph by Liji Jinaraj via Flickr.