Jealousy turns physical; cabbies assault Uber driver at Guwahati airport
One may not have noticed if a person does not spend much time in cabs but there is a battle unfolding on the streets of the city. The fight is between the original taxi drivers and the new app-based car service called Uber. Taxi unions in the city and especially those plying to and fro the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport are not pleased with the sudden upsurge of Uber’s popularity. It is certain that the app-based cab service and other tele-based cab services have taken off in the city and the taxi drivers are not being able to adapt to the change. Things turned ugly on Monday when muscles were flexed and a fisticuff broke out between a few drivers of Borjhar Pre-paid Taxi Association and a driver of Uber.
The incident took place on 1st August, Monday when a driver of Uber named Zakir Ali went to LGBI airport with a passenger at around 12 noon. As Zakir approached the parking area the drivers of Borjhar Pre-paid Taxi Association held him near the prepaid taxi booths. Zakir was allegedly assaulted by the drivers and was asked not to park there. Zakir soon informed the cab drivers association but before any lawful measures could be taken another incident came to light. On the same day another driver of the app-based cab service named Dhruba Jyoti Talukdar escaped assault by drivers of the same association. It took place at around 6 pm on the same day when Talukdar went to pick up a passenger from the LGBI airport. Although, Talukdar escaped the attempted assault, his vehicle was chased down by the assaulters who banged the doors and windows of the car.
Shaken by the incident Talukdar informed members of the All Assam Cab Owners’ Drivers Association who along with other drivers rushed to the office of Uber in Jayanagar, Six Mile in order to seek appropriate proceedings to be taken regarding the matter.
“It is very upsetting that our drivers, despite providing round the clock services to the customers, are not safe in the city streets and are being beaten up. We gheraoed the Uber office and discussed the matter with the management officials who assured us that the matter will be taken up to the airport authority and would urge for a separate parking space,” said Md. Ismail Ali, president, All Assam Cab Owners’ Drivers Association adding, “We then went on to talk to the members of Borjhar Pre-paid Taxi Association when one Deepak Baruah asked us to manage a separate parking space. However, the incident was censurable and cannot be accepted.”
Following the incident the cab drivers’ association called a strike on Tuesday from 1 pm to 12 am. Ali also stated that there is no reason that could have sparked any kind of argument with other drivers of the association. The taxi drivers anyway have the notoriety of misbehaving with the passengers. He also urged that the transport corporation should chalk down certain guidelines on issuing commercialization of vehicles.
“The roads of Guwahati merely stretch up to 20 to 25 kilometres and the mammoth rise in the number of commercial vehicles is leading to the decrease in the number of customers. A person would buy as many as vehicles and put them for commercial use whereas those who invest their life’s earnings on one vehicle have to survive without a customer,” Ali stated.
In most other major airports of the country, there are prepaid taxi booths both inside and outside the arrival counters. However, there is only one prepaid taxi booth inside the arrival counter in the LGBI airport which directs towards an urgent need for one more prepaid booth outside the arrival lounge for the ease and convenience of the passengers.
The Borjhar Pre-paid Taxi Association runs their business inside the airport premises by paying due royalty to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) on a monthly system.
Earlier, allegations had surfaced that an unauthorized taxi organization is running a syndicate in the premises of the airport, which has resulted in harassment to travelling passengers. Sources said that this unauthorized taxi syndicate is operating right under the nose of the AAI as well as the local police authorities.
As per allegations, the syndicate is being run by Guwahati Airport Taxi Association, which is not an authorized association under the Airport Authority of India (AAI), Borjhar. This syndicate issues parking spots to commercial vehicles coming from Tezpur, Jorhat, Shillong and other places, which has been causing immense difficulties to the authorised taxi associations and also for the smooth running of the airport. Agents of the Guwahati Airport Taxi Association also woo unsuspecting travellers as soon as they come out of the arrival lounge to these unauthorized taxis in lieu of commission. It may also be mentioned that several no parking boards were placed at a few spots of the airport’s parking area which created a lot of confusion for travellers. However, the boards were later removed from the area.
The existence of this kind of a taxi group has raised serious apprehensions over the safety and security of the passengers as well.