Following the inconvenience encountered by commuters on the first day of their “chakka jam”, the unions of autorickshaws and taxi drivers have decided to withdraw their indefinite strike scheduled for Tuesday. Unions are protesting against rising CNG and fuel prices and demanding a review of tariffs. However, drivers who work with app-based taxi aggregators said they will continue their protest until their demands are met.
Demanding a CNG subsidy and fare review, several auto and taxi unions, as well as gramin seva and metro bus services, had announced a two-day “chakka jam” starting Monday.
“Our protest was against the central government and the state government over the CNG price hike and it will continue. But we don’t want to cause any inconvenience to the public. Our original plan was to hold an indefinite strike for two days (April 18, 19) But on Monday, we saw many students, elderly people and parents waiting for hours at ISBTs, at the station and at the airport for taxis and taxis. Parents and school children have also faced similar issues so we have decided to suspend and withdraw the protest for the time being,” said Rajendra Soni, Chairman of Delhi Autorickshaw Sangh.
There are around 90,000 to 95,000 rickshaws and over 80,000 taxis registered with the Delhi Transport Department. According to drivers’ unions, only 3-5% of automobiles and taxis were on the roads for emergency services. “…We are expecting a meeting with the central government in the next few days. If they don’t meet us, we will start the strike again,” Soni said.
Sanjay Samrat, chairman of the Delhi Taxi Tourist and Transportation Association, said: “Not all taxis and tourist buses ran today. We learned that many people were blocked. But neither the Center nor the state cares about the inconvenience faced by the public. So… the taxis and tourist buses have decided to suspend the demonstration scheduled for April 19 and return to work.
Meanwhile, taxi drivers working with app-based taxi aggregators said they would continue their protest until the government responds to their demands. “The taxi fare was last revised in 2013, but the price of CNG has gone up many times over that time,” said Sunita, who works with a taxi aggregator.
Due to Monday’s protest, those who book a taxi or car through taxi aggregators have seen a sharp increase in fares. For example, a car from Laxmibai Nagar, INA, Udyog Bhawan, which usually costs Rs 60-75, has been increased to around Rs 100. A similar distance by taxi, which is usually 100-110 rupees, has increased to 150 rupees. Vandana Garg, who lives in RK Puram, said, “I usually pick up a car from the office, but the drivers near my house demanded 100 rupees for a distance of only 3 km.”
The main demands of the protesting drivers are the revision of taxi fares of Rs 30 for AC and Rs 25 for non-AC taxis per km; exempt Delhi-registered taxis from MCD toll; the launching of the Delhi City Taxi Policy 2017 as suggested by the Supreme Court; subsidy of 35 rupees per kg on the price of CNG; and ending taxi aggregator schemes and consolidating all cabs and taxis under one management run by the Delhi government with fixed prices and driver benefits. CNG prices have been increased by Rs 2.5, and the current price in Delhi is Rs 71.61 per kg. It has been walked three times in April and 11 times since March 7.