• Wed. Nov 16th, 2022

TGPWU calls on government to protect taxi drivers from loan sharks

Hyderabad: The Telangana Gig and Platform Workers Union (TGPWU) here called on the state government to act against private financiers and banks forcing unemployed taxi drivers to pay despite the financial hardship they have faced during the ongoing second wave of COVID-19.

The union’s request comes days after an Uber taxi driver attempted to kill himself in the city. Kuppala Venkata, who has been an Uber driver for four years and has completed three thousand rides, is currently fighting for his life. Unable to pay his debts, he attempted suicide last month, on May 29.

“Due to the lockdown, there was no business for him to pay EMIs or monthly installments. In a desperate attempt to ensure that banks do not take away his vehicle, the sole source of income for his family, he was forced to take out a loan from private lenders,” said Shaik Salauddin, President of State of the TGPWU.

In Telangana, the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed from May 2 and citizens were initially only allowed to move around from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. This has negatively impacted the lives of app-based drivers working for companies like Uber and Ola, Salauddin added.

Many drivers, due to lack of work during confinement, are unable to pay their EMI and have had to take out loans from private financiers. These private financiers are infamous for their high interest rates and usually harass people when they don’t pay. Kuppala Venkat was one such victim.

“Soon after, loan collectors from private lenders started harassing Kuppala Venkata. They allegedly threatened and intimidated the victim, and mentally tortured him, which prompted him to take the decision to end his life.
He attempted suicide on May 29 and right now he is struggling between life and death as his family desperately tries everything to save him,” Salauddin said. Siasat.com.

The president of the Telangana Gig and Platform Workers Union has urged Uber to help Kuppala Venkata and his family. He also urged the Telangana government to act against the private financiers and the bank, whose actions forced Kuppala Venkatesh to take such action.

“Taxes, fuel prices, penalties and tolls continued to drive up operating costs, but activity remained subdued due to weak demand. About 50% of drivers’ vehicles and app-based deliverers are still off the road and once the current moratorium period ends there would be an upsurge in NPAs.As a result, app-based drivers and deliverers earn nothing meaningful and are not able to pay their EMIs or installment payments. Salauddin said Siasat.com.