Karnataka government is still not prepared to come to terms with the modus operandi of cab aggregators in the state. Matters have come to a head and the Karnataka transport department has issued a circular stating that the aggregators operating un-licensed cabs in the city will have to stop operations — right now!
The government had been warning the aggregators, you have to give it that. The transport department had also been conducting various awareness drives make sure that cabbies, along with the companies themselves, were well aware of the fact. However, after the carrot approach it was decided to pick up the stick.
The circular stated that many aggregators in the state have not yet obtained their licenses from the transport authorities and are still operating un-licensed cabs. As per the department, this is a clear violation of section 193 of the motor vehicles act and continuing to operate in this manner would lead to strict action from the involved authorities. As per the act,
Whoever engages himself as an agent or canvasser in contravention of the provisions of section 93 or of any rules made thereunder shall be punishable for the first offence with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees and for any second or subsequent offence with imprisonment which may extend to six’, months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both.
It actually comes under the much more detailed Motor Vehicles Act 1998, which rules the operation of vehicles in the whole country.
On Thursday alone, almost 200 cabs that were on the wrong side of the law were seized in HSR Layout and surrounding areas. Needless to say, the seizures after awareness drives wasn’t much liked by the cabbies themselves, who staged a protest on Friday.
This is not the first time that cab aggregators have found themselves at odds with the government over their innovative schemes. The government had first quashed the nascent bike taxis program being propagated by Ola and Uber stating that the bikes were not really commercial vehicles. Later, the Karnataka government had also raised objections against the surge pricing scheme that was being introduced by cab aggregaters in the state.
However, Ola and Uber have continued flouting government rules by finding creative ways around them. Both of them cumulatively operate a huge number of vehicles in the state and in cities like Bangalore, have become an integral part of the transport infrastructure. So yes, merely a government circular is not going to guarantee abidance. However, judging by the transport department’s tough stand and the cab aggragators blatant disregard for the law, things may just come to a head this time.