There is absolutely no doubt that online cab booking apps like Ola, Uber etc have made life easy for millions in India. In a country where you have to bargain for every penny, the idea of fair price and decent drivers without the troubles of bargains is indeed a welcome change.
With a large chunk of its his population residing in Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities, the idea of online cab booking coupled with sleek app design ( navigational and location sharing features) has really taken up in India. So much so, that there is new crop of apps which have started penetrating much more deeper into the Indian demographics, such as the facility of cab sharing, shuttles and booking autos/rickshaws online.
As is always the case, every new technology faces some apprehension when it is launched. Thankfully cab-booking has passed that key stage and has now become an integral part of many Indians especially the young and middle aged Indians.
Safety has always been a major pain points for the vendors, to begin with there was hardly any background checks for the criminal records of the registered drivers. The Delhi Uber rape case and similar instances in metros like Mumbai and Bangalore raised some serious speculations over the continuance of cab booking as the preferred choice. Thankfully, stricter background checks for criminal record of drivers and location sharing have ensured that people have continued using the said apps.
But there is a flip side to this scenario as well. If we want to guarantee the passenger then logic dictates that there should be some mechanism to guarantee the safety of driver too. Public memory is a fragile thing and it seems to have forgotten about the incident where two teenagers shot an Uber driver dead after altercation in Delhi.
Another incident has come to light today and it is about time that some action should be taken to guarantee the safety of drivers. According to many of the national dailies, a taxi driver was allegedly beaten by African nationals in the national capital. The incident took place at around 4 a.m. on Monday when Nuruddin, an Ola cab driver, was beaten up by 6 people, including two women, all of them are believed to be of African origin. After Naruddin refused to carry 6 passengers (which by the way he is totally entitled to, since the limit is 4 passengers maximum in one go) he was thrashed by the group of passengers.
As per the details, the taxi No DL1YE5087 was booked through Ola to go from Rajpur to Dwarka. The driver sustained injuries on his face in the altercation and medical care was provided to him at AIIMS.
These incidents come as a retaliation of racial abuse against African nationals. According to reports six African nationals were attacked in Mehrauli area last week. In another incident, Nigerian student in Hyderabad was beaten up by the local residents during a parking space issue.
This has to stop, there is absolutely no denying that there is a genuine need for apps like Ola and Uber, especially with the government taking steps to curb down surge pricing it is expected that the traffic on these apps will shoot up.
We need to remember that it is a 3 party interaction – the customers, the platform (Ola, Uber) and the driver. The best interest and safety of the stakeholders need to be top priority. While there has been enough uproar about the safety of passengers, why not do the same to ensure the same for drivers then?
It is definitely food for thought and one surely can’t design a solution overnight for it. Hopefully this issue will send some alarm bells ringing and stricter process will be followed to ensure mutual safety.