To Counter Uber & Ola, Kerala CPI(M) to Launch ‘Desi’ Call-Taxi

CPI(M) in Kerala is planning to launch ‘online call-taxi’ and ‘call-auto rickshaw’ services in the state. The move is in the light of fast growth and increasing popularity of corporate online cab service providers like Ola and Uber.

The Left party had opposed arrival of corporate groups in the taxi service sector, citing that it would badly affect the existence of conventional cab providers.

As part of the plan, the existing ordinary taxi and auto service providers irrespective of party and union background would be given professional training, software solutions and technical support to offer online services.

“CPI(M) is not directly launching ‘call taxi’ services, but we are trying to provide all technical support to help our conventional cab providers to be more professional to compete with the corporate cab companies,” said P Rajeev, former Rajya Sabha MP and CPI(M) state committee member.

He said that they planned to launch the ‘desi’ call-taxi and call-auto rickshaws in Kochi next month on an experimental basis.

“Once the pilot programme turns out to be a success, it will be expanded to other parts of the state. The desi call-taxi cabs would provide all high quality services similar to the corporate groups, ranging from online booking facilities to GPS-enabled vehicles, he added.

Low fares a corporate strategy to destroy competition

Rajeev said that multinational operators use the strategy of keeping the fares low and competitive in the early stages to destroy competition. “It is seen that once the competition is destroyed they hike the fares. We have initiated discussion with Vytilla Taxi Welfare Union to launch the service.

Uber and Ola drivers are currently facing violent protests across the state from the traditional taxi drivers and services have been disrupted on several occasions.

Welcoming the alternative, CPI(M) member and former finance minister T M Thomas Isaac wrote on his Facebook page that it would benefit both drivers and users. Isaac said that taxi unions in the state are concerned and that the party is positive to helping the drivers’ union in migrating to the mobile app based platform.