New Delhi: The incident of rape involving an Uber cab driver has come as a shock to working professionals like Poorva Bhardwaj and Sangmitra Sawant who prefer taking private cabs while travelling late nights because of work.
“I am shaken after reading about this. The convenience of these cabs with GPS gave a sense of confidence,” explains Poorva, a management consultant. “In fact, we had recently stopped the company cab service and switched to Uber because it was convenient and also cost effective.”
Sangmitra, a lawyer, is used to taking early morning and late night flights in and out of Delhi on work. She prefers using private cab services and has often brushed aside the anxious queries from her family. But now she knows the doubts will be raised again. “There is no implementation of laws. They claim they do background checks, what is the procedure they follow? Who is checking on that? We have laws in place like background checks for drivers but are they even being followed? The focus should be on implementation of the law, that’s what matters to act as deterrent,” she says emphatically.
GPS-enabled taxis, details of the driver and cab and tracking of the journey are some of the factors that work in favour of these services, where booking a taxi takes less than a minute on a smartphone. But with police alleging there were major lapses on Uber’s part in this particular case, the safety factor is back to haunt users of these new-age taxi services.
“While we do have a wide range of services, I don’t think we have been able to standardise them and work towards a database. We must strengthen our public infrastructure, we need to develop services around that which is imperative like a city like Delhi,” said Suneeta Dhar of women’s rights organisation Jagori.
Already notorious for its poor record on women’s safety, Delhi’s reputation has taken another hit where given its poor public transport and last mile connectivity issues, the dependence on private taxi services is high.