Rising CNG price making a dent in budget of cab drivers

Daily battle: While cab drivers have been putting in longer hours to increase daily income, it is not an option for food delivery executives who are getting fewer orders. File

Daily battle: While cab drivers have been putting in longer hours to increase daily income, it is not an option for food delivery executives who are getting fewer orders. File

Saturday saw fuel prices go in different directions in the Capital. Even as diesel and petrol prices were slashed by ₹6 and ₹8 per litre respectively, CNG saw a spike of ₹2 per litre, adding to the long list of woes of Kamla Prasad, an app-based cab driver.

Mr. Prasad, 51, said he faces a dilemma at the beginning of every month — whether he should pay the house rent, his child’s school fee or repay the loan instalment for his cab.

The rising CNG price over the past few months — 13 times since March 7 — are hurting his budget. Mr. Prasad has reached a point where his daily CNG expenses have doubled and he has ended up defaulting on two months’ EMI for his four-wheeler and one month’s house rent.

With three school-going daughters and a wife to take care of, he is working harder than ever — putting in 18 hours of duty daily. But even that is not enough to take care of his basic monthly expenses.

No savings

“Problems have increased. We have no savings now. Taking care of the family is not easy,” said Mr. Prasad, “If I clear one payment then I have to hold back the rest for the month.”

Many cab drivers this reporter spoke to had the same story to share. If they make around ₹2,000 after driving for more than 16 hours in a day, only a quarter of their earnings is left in hand as ₹1,400 to ₹1,500 goes on fuel.

From the remaining amount, the drivers set aside about ₹250 for their daily meals while on the job and they are left with a paltry ₹200 or so. Till two months ago, the cab drivers spent ₹600 on an average on daily fuel consumption and that helped them to save enough to pay their car EMIs.

Sumit Bharadwaj, president of Expert Driver Solutions, a Delhi-based cab drivers’ union affiliated with the Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers (IFAT), said the increasing price of fuel has worsened the situation of cab drivers as many of them have had their cars seized by the financiers — like 38-year-old Bunty Rathore.

Mr. Rathore said only last week he started driving the car after a gap of three months. “I cleared pending challans, renewed the insurance, paid road tax and got a fitness certificate too,” he said.

“For four days, I drove for at least 15 hours daily and yet could not pay the daily instalment of ₹1,100 towards the vehicle. Five days ago, my financier impounded the vehicle and now I am sitting at home without a job,” Mr. Rathore said, adding that he also has a debt of ₹80,000 to clear.

While cab drivers have been driving long hours for survival, for the food delivery executives that is not an option.

Mayank Mishra, 26, has been working for a food delivery platform for over a year now. Even if he wanted to work longer, there aren’t enough orders for him to pick up. “I have cut down on eating out and ordering food from restaurants,” he said. He spends only ₹30-₹40 on his meals on the go, compared to ₹150-₹200 a few months ago. “I cannot even afford chewing tobacco now,” he said.

The same is with 40-year-old Wali Ahmed, another food delivery rider, whose family of five has cut down on eating meat at home. From once a week, they have gone to once a month now, if at all. “We have had to make adjustments in every little thing. My daughter was promoted to Class VII but I could not pay the fee at the beginning of the session, so her name in the new register at her school has been withheld,” he said.

Sheik Salauddin, National General Secretary of Telangana-based IFAT said gig workers were already among the most oppressed sections of workers in the country and the fuel price rise is “like the last nail in their coffin.”

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 8:12:21 pm |