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West Bengal: Taxis and ride-hailing cabs to go on strike on August 2

After private bus operators, taxi drivers in West Bengal have threatened to go on a strike. Representatives of taxi operators on Wednesday said they would go off the road on August 2 if their demand to increase taxi fare was not met, and march to the state transport department office. They also criticised “unfair practices” of ride-hailing services.

Taxi union officials claimed they had sent letters to the transport minister and the authorities concerned, requesting them to increase the fare. Sources said all taxi operators affiliated with the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) would participate in the strike. Almost 7,000 cabs on ride-hailing platforms and 12,000 traditional yellow taxis would go off the road.

“We have called for a 24-hour taxi and app cab strike and will do a ‘Paribahan Bhavan Abhijan’ on August 2, appealing to the government to increase taxi fare and stop the unfair practices of app cab management,” said West Bengal Taxi Operators’ Coordination Committee convener Naval Kishore Shrivastava.

He pointed out almost daily hikes in prices of diesel and petrol had placed a burden on taxi drivers. “Owing to this abnormal hike in the price of diesel and petrol in a continuous way, it has become almost impossible for taxi and app cab operators and owners to provide service at the old and existing fare. As such, it has become impossible to manage the livelihood of taxi and app cab operators,” Shrivastava added.

West Bengal Online Cab Operators’ Guild representative Indranil Bandopadhyay, however, said his outfit would not join the strike as such a move at this moment would not be fruitful because of low demand for taxis amid Covid-19 restrictions.

“There are nearly 20,000 app cabs in Bengal whereas approximately 5,000 are currently giving services. The gap between what customers are being charged and what the companies are paying to the drivers is huge. Charging higher than this from the customers is also unfair. This gap has to be reduced first. A strike won’t get a proper response at this time. Hence we will not be a part of the strike,” said Bandopadhyay.

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