Commuters, office-goers and students were hit badly as autorickshaws went off the roads on Wednesday in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai to press for their demands of banning radio taxis and having a social welfare scheme. This is the second time in two days that Mumbai commuters have been hit after Tuesday’s strike by a section of taxi-drivers union led by Nitesh Rane. Wednesday’s strike saw many people either walking down to the nearest railway stations, awaiting the overcrowded BEST or ST buses, using private vehicles or two-wheelers.
Braving rains in many parts, passengers at the airport here as well as at the rail terminals in various places in the city had a harrowing time. The strike, in which Shiv Sena and the taxi-men’s unions are not taking part, led to a spurt in demand for various private and radio taxi services. Ironically, one of demands of the autorickshaw drivers is a ban on these radio taxis.
Claiming that app-based fleet cab aggregators like Uber and Ola were affecting the livelihoods of auto drivers, Mumbai Autorickshawmens Union chief Shashank Rao said about 75,000 union members would be staying off the roads for the next 24 hours starting Tuesday midnight. “These Uber and Ola cabs are plying passengers illegally. Even private buses and vehicles ferry passengers, which is wrong,” said Rao. He warned of more such agitations in future if the government fails to accede to their demands. Transport Minister Diwakar Raote said that the government has taken note of their demands and they would consider them. Besides, the other demands are a social welfare scheme for autorickawmen, status of ‘public servant’ to them, issuing rickshaw permits quickly to those on waiting lists and so on.