Bike taxis of Coim­bat­ore flout­ing trans­port depart­ment rules?

The New Indian Express - - TAMIL NADU / SOUTH - L RA­JAGOPAL

THE cit­i­zens of Coim­bat­ore have re­port­edly taken well the in­tro­duc­tion of bike taxi ser­vice in the city. Not only does it re­port­edly come at a cheaper price, it also ad­dresses the chief prob­lem that reg­u­lar taxi ser­vices could do lit­tle about -snaking out of the peak-hour con­ges­tion. While it does seem like an ideal mode of trans­port, ques­tions have been raised about the le­gal­ity of the busi­ness. Though the pri­vate firm pro­vid­ing the ser­vice has al­ready bro­ken ground in a hand­ful cities in Tamil Nadu, Trans­port of­fi­cials re­veal that they have al­ready be­gun tak­ing ac­tion against riders work­ing for the com­pany. Mere months af­ter the in­tro­duc­tion of the bike taxi ser­vice by the pri­vate firm Rapido, it has be­come a pop­u­lar al­ter­na­tive to the cabs. Not only has it re­port­edly been gain­ing more cus­tomers, many seem to show in­ter­est in work­ing for the ser­vice. De­spite the grow­ing de­mand, the ser­vice is said to be in vi­o­la­tion of Trans­port Depart­ment norms. Ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment’s Joint Com­mis­sioner K R Kr­ish­namoor­thy, the com­pany does not have a per­mit to func­tion in Tamil Nadu. While of­fi­cials have al­ready seized more than eight two-wheel­ers as­so­ci­ated with the firm and im­posed a heavy fine, they were hav­ing trou­ble tak­ing ac­tion against ev­ery­one in­volved. “We are hav­ing trou­ble ac­cess­ing the app; they do not re­spond to us when we try to avail of their ser­vice. How­ever, we still take ac­tion based on com­plaints. Peo­ple should be aware of the il­le­gal­ity of the busi­ness and not re­spond to the ser­vice sim­ply be­cause it is cheap,” he sug­gests. Lack of per­mit can put cus­tomers’ lives at risk, he points out. In case of mishap, one can­not claim in­sur­ance for a ve­hi­cle that does not have per­mit, he ex­plains. How­ever, Gowtham of Ra­manatha­pu­ram — a col­lege stu­dent who works part­time for Rapido — claims that the com­pany of­fers cus­tomers an in­sur­ance of up to `5 lakh, in case of death due to ac­ci­dent; the cap­tains are cov­ered for `3 lakh. The cov­er­age for in­jury is `37,000 and `25,000, re­spec­tively, he says.

Em­ploy­ees in trou­ble?

Any ac­tion against the firm could spell trou­ble for over 500 riders em­ployed by it. On the other hand, there seem to be many perks. Gowtham is one such ben­e­fi­ciary. A part-time job as a cap­tain helps solve his fi­nan­cial prob­lems. With the com­pany not im­pos­ing strict work­ing hours or con­di­tions, it is a very con­ve­nient job, he says. “I usu­ally work from 6 pm to 11 pm. There is no com­pul­sion to work a par­tic­u­lar num­ber of hours. I am pro­vided with in­cen­tives and I man­age to earn up to `300 per day,” he ex­plains.

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