As many as 2,000 office cabs hired for election work

Employees of several private companies, who are provided pick-up and drop facility, may have to do without it and arrange for their own transport on the polling day on Thursday as many private cabs have been requisitioned by the poll authorities. In fact, many of them had a tough time reaching their office even on Wednesday, a day before polling.

Take for instance how Wednesday began for Namrata R. Exactly 30 minutes before her office cab was expected to arrive to pick her up from her Banashankari residence, she was informed that she would have to make it on her own to her Yemlur office.

Many multi-national companies that are working on Thursday have asked their employees to arrange for their own transport to reach office and go back home on Thursday also because the cabs that are engaged to pick them up and drop them are being used by poll authorities. According to K. Radhakrishna Holla, general secretary of the Bangalore Tourist Taxi Owners’ Association, at least 2,000 of the 6,000 vehicles that are used for transporting employees of private firms in Bangalore are engaged in election duty till Thursday evening.

The other two categories of cab services that are hired by poll authorities are those on on-call basis and the city taxis that cater to point-to-point transaction.

Mr. Holla added that most information technology companies have declared a holiday on Thursday. However, those companies that will remain open have given two hours’ time for employees to enable them to cast their vote. “As a result, those employees who are on day shift on Thursday will be affected. However, the cabs that have been hired for poll service will be on duty till 9 p.m. on Thursday. After that they will get back to their routine,” he said.

Mr. Holla added that many tour and travel agencies had readily agreed to provide their services for poll-related work. “Many Regional Transport Offices had conveyed to us their requirements a month ago. But for the last day or two, we have been getting requests from the Police Department as there is shortage of vehicles,” he said.

To a query on the monetary compensation they get if their vehicles are hired for poll-related work, Mr. Holla recalled that the government had cleared their bills a month after the State Assembly elections last year. But, payment for vehicles hired by the Police Department was made only nine months after the Assembly elections.

An owner of a tours and travels company, on the condition of anonymity, said that as many as 250 of their vehicles had been hired for poll-related work. He said that the government was paying them a “reasonable sum” as compensation for their services. But he was quick to add that it is quite difficult to tell the firms that have given them contract to transport their employees that they would not be providing the pick-up and drop service for two days during the elections.

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