After West Bengal, New Delhi, Noida and Telangana, taxi drivers in Bengaluru have now launched a ‘no air conditioning’ policy to deal with the difficulties faced by Ola and Uber drivers amid rising fuel prices and low commissions.
This unfortunately comes at a time of scorching heat as April is the hottest month for Bangalore, with an average high temperature of 35.8°C according to the weather forecast.
The price of petrol in the state increased to Rs. 109.82 per liter as of April 5, from 100.14 per liter recorded on March 28.
Taxi drivers in other cities also charged passengers extra to turn on the air conditioning. A few passengers in Bengaluru have also reported similar experiences in which taxi drivers refuse to turn on the air conditioning.
Taxi drivers would avoid turning on air conditioners by either citing COVID-19 protocols or saying that air conditioning is only included in Ola Prime and sedan reservations.
Telangana Gig and Platform Workers Union (TGPWU) also launched a ‘no air conditioning’ campaign in Hyderabad at the end of March for the same reasons. However, drivers were reported to explain to passengers in a non-confrontational manner the reasons for not providing a cool ride, citing rising petrol and diesel prices and a low commission per ride.
Taxi driver associations in various parts of the country are reaching out to their respective state governments for concessions and subsidies, hoping for some relief as fuel price hikes and low commissions come together burn a hole in the pockets of taxi drivers.
A user on Twitter by the name of Rahul Shukla wrote a message about the Ola taxis handle marking issue and founder Bhavish Aggarval, “Your taxi driver in Bang (alore) does not turn on the AC citing the diktat de comp due to covid and they don’t wear mask. By raising a complaint, no action or partial refund is made. When we book a taxi it is assumed that it will have air conditioning if required. I would prefer to take a car if this is not the case.
Another Twitter user, Purnima M. Mishra wrote, “@Olacabs I am currently on an Ola trip from Mahadevapura to Bilekahalli, Bengaluru. I was trying to book an Ola Mini but my trip was upgraded to Ola Prime Sedan. Now when I ask the driver to turn on the air conditioning, he denies saying “Ola Mini me AC nahi hota. Please take action.”
A user called Reema Lal on Facebook also added her experience, writing: “I booked a Prime Sedan Ola rider because my last Ola mini ride rider refused to turn on the air conditioning. But guess what my driver Ola Prime also refused to turn on the air conditioning on a scorching afternoon. I tried to look for a place to register this complaint… but it’s almost impossible on their app.
On the other hand, a user by the name of Syed Kaleem Mohiyuddin sympathized with taxi drivers by writing, “Poor taxi drivers cannot afford to turn on the air conditioning due to high fuel consumption. Unless gasoline, diesel and CNG prices are reduced, it will be difficult for drivers to operate their vehicles. People should accept this or pay a little extra to compensate the drivers. It will still be better than having your own car.