Pandemic hits business, Bengaluru airport cabbies want common fare for all operators | Bengaluru News – Times of India
With daily passengers at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) having reduced from 90,000-1 lakh to 40,000-45,000 after Covid-19, the number of trips made by cab drivers has also dipped. The rate of diesel has gone up from Rs 64.41 per litre in March 2020 to Rs 85.75 now, and travel has reduced due to the virus scare, work-from-home arrangement and webinars. Many passengers are opting for private vehicles for airport commute.
Drivers are not operating taxis from the airport since Tuesday night. Airport Taxi Owners’ Association president Hamid Akbar Ali said: “We are demanding ‘One Airport, One Fare’. KSTDC’s fares are high, so passengers prefer cheaper options like Ola and Uber. KSTDC drivers are not getting any business.”
According to him, airport taxi drivers (KSTDC, Meru, Mega and Airport taxi) need to pay more than app-based aggregators like Ola and Uber. For instance, if a driver gets Rs 800 fare for a trip, he will need to pay these companies Rs 115-150 per trip, Rs 95 toll charges and Rs 40 GST, among other things. In addition to this, airport taxi drivers need to pay monthly parking fee of Rs 4,500 for non-AC cabs and Rs 8,000 for AC ones.
“The parking fee is fixed irrespective of the number of trips a driver gets. We also need to pay a significant amount for insurance, diesel and maintenance. The driver has hardly anything left for personal expenses,” he said.
K Somashekhar, president, Namma Chalakara Trade Union, said: “Airport taxis are not getting business since their tariff is higher than that of Ola and Uber. Airport taxis also need to pay commission to BIAL and drivers are struggling due to soaring diesel prices. The government-fixed rate for city taxis is Rs 18 per km for non-AC cabs and 24 per km for AC ones, but app-based aggregators are running them at less than Rs 10 per km. We have decided not to ply until the government comes up with the same fare for all operators.”
Tanveer Pasha, a cab union leader, said: “I knew Pratap. He was hardworking and a down-to-earth person. This incident is a big shock for us. It could happen to any driver. We have been highlighting the plight of drivers but the government has chosen to ignore it so far. He is the latest victim.”
He said the government should allow drivers to fix meters and collect fares like autorickshaws. “Government-fixed fares should be applicable to everyone so drivers can get a steady income,” he added.
Meanwhile, former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said KSTDC’s taxi fare is Rs 24 per km but private cab aggregators are offering fares at Rs 9 per km to attract passengers, which is resulting in business loss for KSTDC drivers. He urged the state government to help cabbies.
KSTDC cab driver who set himself ablaze succumbs
The 34-year-old cab driver who set himself on fire inside his cab at Kempegowda International Airport on Tuesday succumbed to burns at Victoria Hospital in the wee hours of Wednesday. Pratap Kumar K, a resident of Tumbenahalli near Ramanagara, was unmarried and is survived by his parents and elder brother. Police have taken up a case of abetment to suicide against unknown persons based on a complaint filed by his brother.
Police said Kumar had attached his cab to Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) and his business was hit because of the pandemic. He arrived at the pick-up point in KIA on Tuesday evening, poured petrol on himself and set himself ablaze at 4.39pm.
The flames were doused and he was rushed to a nearby hospital and later shifted to Victoria Hospital.
“Kumar suffered more than 70% burns and breathed his last around 2am on Wednesday. We handed over his body to his family after postmortem. His parents told us Kumar was depressed due to financial problems,” a police officer said.
Charging Rs 24 per km as per govt orders: KSTDC
Vijay Sharma, managing director, KSTDC, said: “Police are investigating to ascertain the reason behind the suicide. We can only give a statement after preliminary inquiries are over.” Sharma added: “We are charging as per government orders of Rs 24 per km whereas Ola and Uber are charging less than rates fixed by the government as per their business model.”