Sure cab aggregators like Ola and Uber have made our lives way more easy and comfortable, but if someone suffers(adversely) the most from it, it is the local taxi drivers of the country. This is particularly true in case of the drivers in the national capital, where the majority of them are non-residents of the city and strive day and night to make both the ends meet.
In this section of the UnDelhiWalah, we bring to you a peek into the lives of the autowallahs of Delhi, their struggles, sorrows and joys. It is a heart-touching drive, with its fair share of ups and downs.
We spoke to a couple of taxi drivers in Delhi and were surprised to hear the same kinds of hardships and complaints they face in general.
The first driver we spoke to was Ravinder Shah, who hails from Sarsa in Bihar. He has been living in the national capital since 1998.
“Ever since Ola and Uber entered the market, we have been left jobless. Earlier our license were easily made for Rs 600. Now the same costs around Rs 30,000-32,000. Even if we go to our union with our demands and complaints, they give us a cold shoulder. The union leaders take the money and refuse to take any action upon them. It is a very disheartening situation for us. Moreover, we cannot do anything about it as we have no one to go to”.
Shah also lamented on the plight of the entire driver community in the city and said that the government is not at all concerned about their condition in the capital.
“My family consists of my wife, two sons and a daughter. It is really difficult to survive in a big city with barely sufficient resources. It requires a lot of hard work on my part as I have to take care of the whole family”, says a sad Ravinder Shah.
Similar kinds of hardships are faced by Sundar Mohan Jeetbabu, who hails from Mayurbhanj in Odisha. He has been living in Delhi since 1982.
He says that the only thing a driver can do is to drive taxis and manage bread for two meals a day for their families somehow. “Ever since the people switched over to cabs like Ola and Uber for the sake of their convenience and comfort, our importance has been drastically reduced”, he comments.
We enquired if he had ever thought of going back to his hometown, to which he replied that it is difficult for him to relocate there as their family has been settled here. “All our life revolves around this city, children have schools to attend here and I work here, so there is little chance of me to relocate back to Odisha now”, he said.
He also stated that it gets difficult for taxi drivers at times when the customers refuse to give a reasonably decent price for the auto rides. “At times we use the meter, while sometimes, fares are decided before the ride. That varies form auto-to-auto and also from
customer-to-customer. It gets difficult, but we have to bear with it”, he says.
“Also, when there occurs any problem in the auto, we need to bear the expense, that comes to around Rs 2000-3000. No help is provided by the government for the same. Moreover, the prices of CNG keeps fluctuating and get unpredictable at times. This really bothers us”, Mohan said.
He also said that there is a common trouble that all the taxi drivers are facing these days. That is the shortage of CNG at petrol pumps. New cars that are entering the market are also equipped with CNG these days. This leads to an increased demand for the gas. Also, CNG is not available at all petrol pumps. This causes unnecessary delay in their business, which would have been avoidable, provided if CNG were easily available at all petrol pumps.
“Of late, we held a meeting to protest against the Ola and Uber in the city, but our demands went unheard. The trade union leader, who happens to be amongst one of us only, takes up our money on the promise of improving our conditions, but are hardly attends to our problems and needs”, he adds.
“No improvement of any kind is seen for our betterment. We have nowhere to go to lodge our complaints”, says a visibly sad
He further states that all their attempts go futile as their concerns are not welcomed by authorities. To avoid such perpetual disappointments, they find it better to just run autos and do their job, and be content with whatever little money they get.
“Moreover, the surging prices are a nightmare for us. We need to get our autos passed once a year. Earlier the cost was Rs 200, but has now become Rs 600. We find it really difficult to manage our finances now. Challans are also a big thing for us. At times, policemen try to bribe us with Rs 100-200. Most of us also agree to it, as it helps avoid further visits to the court and higher authorities, which could be costlier for us”, he concludes.
To note, survival in a big city like Delhi is not so easy for these auto drivers. There are a thousand others like Ravinder and Mohan who are struggling in the capital, only to make survival a little easy, with all the hard work they do.
Much has been promised by the government- both the Centre and state, but little has been done off the papers. In this case, time also cannot tell when the social and financial conditions of these auto drivers can be improved, even by the slightest percent.
The UnDelhiwalah is an exclusive series wherein Newsd delves into the relationship of the citizenry thriving and surviving in this cosmopolitan city.