Ahmedabad: Starting March 19, commuters in major Indian cities may have to wait for hours, since they would not be unable to book a cab from their cab-hailing apps Uber and Ola as the drivers have threatened to go on an indefinite strike starting this Sunday. The drivers have threatened to switch off their devices and go off-road due to the drastic fall in business in the past several months. The drivers from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Gurgaon and other cities will be shutting their devices and protest outside the offices of Uber and Ola.

Sudhakar, a member of the Ola and Uber taxi drivers union told The Hindu that the drivers were already burdened by loans they had taken for purchasing cars. He alleged that they were being cheated by the taxi aggregators by giving them incentives initially and were made to drive for more than 20 hours without proper rest. He further added that they were forced to drive for as low as ?6 per km, which caused the drivers huge losses.

The Ola and Uber taxi drivers unions in their 10-point petition urged the State government to step in and fix minimum fares for different capacity of vehicles, reduction of commission to 7%, additional 25% fare for night rides, removal of star ratings, cancellation of various penalties on drivers, and withdrawal of the car pooling options.

Sanjay Naik, Maharashtra Navnirman Vahatuk Sena, which is organising the protest in Mumbai, told DNA that over the years, the business of these drivers have slumped due to the mismanagement of these companies. If they do not take their demands seriously then the protest can be indefinite.

The main demands of the unions are that both services should ensure business worth Rs 1.25 lakh as assured by them in the beginning, shut operations of company-owned cabs, reinstate blacklisted drivers who have been given low ratings by passengers, decide fares as per cost of vehicles and stop low fare booking. Drivers claim that the banks which provided loans against these cabs have seized thousands of vehicles. The drivers find it hard to repay loans and run their families even after driving for over 12 hours.