‘Will take months for auto, taxi drivers to recover losses’

Autorickshaws and taxis will be allowed to ply with a maximum of two passengers from June 14.   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

While the city gears up for easing of lockdown restrictions, autorickshaw and taxi drivers, who have not had a regular income since April, say it will be months before they can recover their losses. The Karnataka government has announced that autorickshaws and taxis will be allowed to ply with a maximum of two passengers from June 14.

Many are worried that they may not see brisk business until every one of them is fully vaccinated. However, it was only in the first week of June that the government started a drive to vaccinate them.

Radhakrishna Holla, president of the Karnataka State Travel Operators’ Association, said vaccinating drivers is crucial. “People will want vaccinated drivers to drive the vehicles. Even our customers in the corporate sector will insist on us sending drivers who have been vaccinated. We are conducting vaccination camps with the help of the BBMP.”

Ride-hailing app Uber is providing financial support to drivers to get vaccinated. The platform, like many others, had launched safety protocols and a ‘no mask, no ride’ policy.

Another major concern among drivers is the rising price of fuel. “Diesel price has already crossed ₹90 per litre. The cost involved in running a taxi is very high and we may not get good bookings for the next five to six months. We will get bookings only when the tourism sector improves and companies ask employees to return to office,” said Rajeev, a taxi driver.

Drivers have been demanding that the government instruct banks and private lenders not to force them to pay EMIs for vehicle loans for at least three months.

“Last year, when the lockdown was relaxed, within a few days, private financiers started harassing auto drivers demanding repayment of loans. Drivers will face the same problems this time too unless the government intervenes,” said K. Somashekar of Namma Chalakara Trade Union.

Meanwhile, around 1 lakh drivers received ₹3,000 as COVID-19 relief from the State government via direct benefit transfer as of June 10.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 4:46:13 PM |

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