The deadly coronavirus has pushed India’s 1.3 billion people indoors. It’s been more than a month now. The situation has arrived where many are losing jobs and many are struggling to put food on the tables. Drivers of cab aggregators, Ola and Uber are also ones of those who are affected badly due to the lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The cab aggregators had promised to provide food grains and funds to the drivers. Now many drivers are giving up hope from the cab aggregators as they receive no help even after a month of making promises.
Even before the lockdown was imposed, the income of Ola and Uber drivers across India slumped to less than 50 per cent because many were avoiding travelling in the wake of the COVID-19. Some were thinking of going back to their native places and some were scared of going hungry because of lack of income. Looking into the situation, Ola and Uber, duo companies began a campaign requesting people to donate money that can be used to help the lockdown affected drivers.
Ola group along with its employees has promised to contribute Rs. 20 crore to support the driver community. Moreover, It’s co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal had also promised to contribute personally by donating his one year salary.
This news came as a huge relief for the drivers of the cab aggregator companies. However, little did they know that this so-called good news could make them lose hope on Ola and Uber companies. The crores of rupees seem to not be able to help drivers who are struggling to put food on the tables and unable to fulfil the medical emergencies.
The drivers are venting their anger on social media and complaining of not receiving the help they were promised. Sajid Rahil from Hyderabad who would drive a taxi in Uber for 10-12 hours every day and earn about Rs. 20,000 a month is now struggling to put food on the tables for his family of six members. He is also worried about finances to meet medical emergencies of his pregnant wife.
“My wife is pregnant and will soon go under labour. I hardly have money for food. Imagine how I am going to manage money for my wife’s delivery and other expenses,” said Sajid. He further added that the situation is so hard for everyone that expecting help from relatives or friends is not possible.
Sajid stays in a rented house in Gujarat. “Thanks to the landlord who is not asking for rent which is Rs. 3500 per month,” Sajid showed gratitude.
“I called about 10 days back to Uber. Whenever you call Uber it’s an IVR that tells you someone will call you back. I tried many times. Ten days passed, I am still waiting for the call,” revealed Sajid.
Another driver Mitesh Prajapati from Gujarat also said that he contacted the Uber company through the customer care number but his effort went in vain. “3-4 days ago I was told that I will receive some help but I haven’t received any help so far. It looks like they are just making falls promises. They do not understand how hard it is for us to survive without money and lack of food ” said Mitesh.
Mitesh is a married man having seven family members including his parents. “If they really want to help us then they should expedite the process. It’s already been more than a month with no income. We are suffering a lot,” added Mitesh.
“I have heard some drivers are receiving Rs. 500 and some are receiving 1000 weekly. However, I am yet to receive any financial or grocery help,” told Gajendra Singh from Delhi who drives a cab in Ola. He further said that he does not have much problem as far as food is concerned because the Delhi government is providing food grains free of cost. However, “Money is needed for other expenses,” added Gajendra.
Rakesh Soni, an Ola driver from Mumbai, said that he received 5kg flour, 1kg Chana dal, 1kg Toor dal and one packet of salt. “I have not received any financial help which is also needed as we are prohibited to work because of the Coronavirus and left with no source of income,” added Rakesh. He would earn about Rs. 18,000 a month. He would drive more than 12 hours every day.
Islam Kazi from Mumbai’s Malad has been following up with Ola company for help. “Now I have lost hope. I have been contacting the company for more than six days, but they are doing nothing but giving false promises,” said Islam. He has four family members. He is left with very little money to afford food and other essentials to survive.
Mayur Khopade from Pune told that Ola company is acting as if they don’t want to help drivers seriously. “The Ola representatives are asking me just pin code of my area to send food grains to my address. How they are going to send me the food grain if they don’t have the full address of my house. They should understand that many are sleeping half-empty stomach,” said Mayur.
All Ola and Uber drivers earn just hand to mouth. Some did have very little savings which have already finished because they are not earning at all for a month now. Drivers say they are the ones who give business to the cab aggregators by working for 12-15 hours. “If they don’t help us in this bad time then where do we go?” asked Ahmed Baig who drives a cab in Ola. He is based in Hyderabad.