Cab drivers rally to protest ride-hailing apps in Islamabad
Taxi drivers in Islamabad staged a protest against what they called “unfair” competition from ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Careem, calling for ban on app-based taxi services as these are “destroying their livelihoods”.
The protesters blocked Murree Road for almost an hour, causing traffic jam, leaving many between Islamabad and Murree stranded while the protesters argued with police.
Protesting drivers belonging to the federal capital taxi union. They also protested in Bani Gala and outside the National Press Club and warned that they would take further steps if their issues are not addressed. The Taxi driver union chanted slogans for an hour against the online cab services, they demanded the concerned authorities to shut down the mobile app-based taxi services.
The protest turned violent at Rawal Chowk, when taxi drivers broke the windscreen of vehicles belonging to two private cab companies and attempted to thrash the driver. However, police force at the scene rescued the driver.
The president of the Taxi Drivers Welfare Association, Malik Aftab alleged district administration that 35 taxi drivers had been arrested. However, Islamabad Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mushtaq rejected the claim, syaing no taxi drivers have been arrested.
Mr. Mushtaq said the assistant commissioner has also been directed to hold a dialogue with the protesters, to prevent situations such as blocked roads or inconvenienced citizens in the future.
Taxi Drivers Welfare Association chief Mr. Aftab said that app-based taxi services have become a problem for the earnings of almost 40,000 families running licensed taxis in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. He further said that they have filed a writ petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) which will hear the case on Sept 14.
Malik Aftab added that competition between app-based services and licensed taxis was impossible, as our licensed cabs are paying four taxes while app-based car services run without paying any taxes.
Last year, the Islamabad district administration issued notices to app-based taxi services to stop operating because they were not using commercial vehicles to provide their services. But the services resumed soon after.
It should be mentioned that earlier Careem took the initiative of adding 25,000 taxis to its fleet in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi to provide relief to local cabies.
Why citizens prefer Careem and Uber over local Taxis?
Most citizens of Islamabad and Rawalpindi claim that ride-hailing apps are offering much-needed relief to the commuters by providing affordable and convenient transport, mainly because of the absence of proper transport system.
“Travelling in Careem or Uber is a life-changing experience for me. The prices are affordable and you don’t have to waste time bargaining with taxi drivers. Plus it’s a luxurious experience as you travel in a neat, nice car, so much better than those grimy local taxis” says Alisha Anwar, a resident of Rawalpindi.
The residents have strongly reacted against the protest and blocking of roads by local cab drivers.
“Someone should start checking there (local taxi) permits and health of the vehicles. It will give them a lesson” said Abubakar Sheikh.
Commenting on the miserable condition of local taxis, Aatif Azio, a resident of Islamabad, remarked: “Local taxis have no AC no proper sea. Dirty cabs make the travel so unhygienic for the passengers. Their vehicles are not even suitable and mechanically fit for roads.”
Comparign the two services, he said: “Locals cabs charge about Rs.800 to Rs.1000 for just 25 kms of distance within the city whhereas, Careem offers you ride in a good conditioned private car with AC on in just Rs.300. So taxis should better improve their condition and redice fare rather than protesting on roads.”