Cabs missing on the roads

Unlock 1.0 has not helped as customers are still wary of using public transport

June 19, 2020 12:02 am | Updated 12:02 am IST - HYDERABAD

As traffic flows freely in Hyderabad, missing from the roads are the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation buses. Also missing are the cabs that have tie-up with aggregators like Ola, Uber, Prydo and other companies. “There is no business. I am getting very few requests. Earlier, there was no time to breathe. Now, my cab is idling most of the time,” says Ravi who has listed his cab on two of the biggest aggregators in the city. “I will have to pay an EMI of ₹19,900 next month. I don’t know how I will do it,” says the owner-driver who hails from Mahabubabad, which is about 200 km from Hyderabad.

Industry estimates

According to industry estimates, Hyderabad has between 1 lakh and 1.3 lakh cabs operated under various ownership patterns. A large number of drivers hails from surrounding areas of Hyderabad and even Bidar who are either employed by vehicle owners or hire the vehicles for a fixed rate per month. The lockdown imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 has upended their plans. The Unlock 1.0 has not helped as customers are still wary of using public transport.

“I used to spend between ₹5,000 and ₹7,000 on cabs for travelling to different locations for photo shoots. Now, I have stopped my work. I don’t want to take any risk,” says Kalyan Kumar, who does architectural photography. This cutdown in spending and trust-deficit has had its impact on cab drivers and drivers for hire. Some cab owners have created a bespoke plastic bubble that isolates the driver from the passengers. But such vehicles are few.

“Between the lockdown and now, I have been hired only once to drive from Lanco Hills to Nalgonda and back. I keep waiting for people to call me so that I can make a living,” says Syed Muhammad Ozair who drives on a per-hour or per-day basis. “We have become dependent on help from others. We missed getting rations for April. How can you live with ₹1,500 that we got for two months?” says Mr. Ozair, who lives with his mother in Toli Chowki area.

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