BENGALURU: In a move that could deprive commuters of quicker, safer and cheaper modes of transport, the Karnataka government on Thursday suspended four web-based cab operators in the wake of an advisory from the Centre to the states and Union territories. The services banned are Uber, TaxiForSure, Carzonrent and Zoomcar.
The central advisory had called for a halt to operations of unregistered taxi agencies.
Within hours of the ban, transport authorities booked nearly 250 cabs for various violations, including not displaying city/airport taxi boards and absence of digital meters. Some were booked for issues related to city taxi permits and driving licence.
A transport department spokesperson said the order is yet to be issued. “There are 12 aggregators in the city; only eight have valid papers from RTOs. The four others did not produce any registration and operational licence papers and are, hence, deemed to be suspended.”
The move drew criticism from people across the board. Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said: “It appears to be an overreaction… Bengalureans are highly dependent on such services in the absence of a fully functional public transport system.”
Swati Bala, a communication professional, wondered: “Will autorickshaws ever be banned if one of their drivers rapes somebody?”
The Centre’s advisory came days after an Uber driver in Delhi raped a woman passenger, triggering a national uproar. Only Delhi has imposed a ban on web-based cab services, while Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are mulling their suspension.
On Tuesday, transport commissioner Rame Gowda had asked all cab-hailing service aggregators to register themselves as city taxis at the earliest. He told TOI on Thursday that the services were banned because the agencies failed to register themselves with the Regional Transport Authority. Their suspension will be revoked once they register themselves as city taxis and obtain operational licences.
Olacabs escaped the ban since it had registered itself a few days ago in the Electronics City RTO. Sources in the transport department said the registration was done much before the Delhi rape.
However, transport authorities seem to be treading in a grey area. Zoomcar, one of the suspended operators, says it is a self-drive service. It rents out cars and does not provide chauffeurs.
The sources said operators like Meru, Mega, Easy Cabs, KSTDC, Bangalore Cabs, Rapid and Spot taxis have all obtained operational licences and registered themselves.
Earlier in the day in Belagavi, transport minister R Ramalinga Reddy said he had asked transport commissioner Rame Gowda to check whether web-based taxis operating in the state have registered with the department and obtained licences. “If they have not complied with these directives, their operations will be stopped.”