“I experienced a tough time due to the strike. I booked a ride in an autorickshaw after failed attempts to book a taxi. Even my friends had a harrowing time, as even Ola autos were also unavailable at one point,” said M Srinidhi from Old Mahabalipuram Road, a regular commuter of Uber. The protesting drivers gathered in front of the Government Guest House in Chepauk, joined by those running taxis attached to cab aggregators Ola, Uber and Fasttrack.
Transport Commissioner C Samayamoorthy sought four days’ time to find a solution to their long-pending demand.
“It is a long-pending demand of the call taxi drivers. The government fixed the tariff for call taxis in 1981. It is impossible to operate taxis based on the old tariff given the increase in fuel prices recently,” B Anbazhagan, the general secretary of Chennai Managara Motor Vagana Thozhilalar Sangam.
City police remanded 250 protesters at a marriage hall in Chintadripet and released them later in the evening.
According to the existing tariff fixed by the government, the minimum rate is Rs 5 for per km and Rs 10 for two km. This is less when compared to the fare of even autorickshaws in the city. Currently, the call taxis under the category of share charge around Rs 8, while air-conditioned four-wheeler has Rs 10 as the minimum fare.
The transport unions have been demanding the government to fix the tariff for the past three years. The union staged a massive protest in March where then Transport Commissioner informed the protesters that tariff would be fixed within the 15 days.
The government came up with a new formula that enunciated the dos and don’ts to be followed regarding driving and maintenance of cabs. Following this, the unions worked out a new tariff card where they fixed Rs 100 as minimum fare for the first four km, and Rs 12 for every additional km. The vehicles with seating capacity of seven can charge Rs 150 as the minimum fare. For the vehicles that fall under the mini and micro category, Rs 80 is the minimum charge.