Hyderabad: Thousands of employees and general commuters are facing problems as the strike by Ola and Uber drivers and owners further intensified on Monday. Drivers and owners of private taxis also joined the strike in support of their fraternity.

The strike call given by the Telangana Cab Drivers and Owners Association is getting response from its members all over the state. The number of taxis that will be off the road has increased to one lakh from 80,000 with the private cabs joining the agitation.

Association president V. Shiva said other cab owners-cum-drivers had joined with them and from Monday, the protest programs will reach other districts.

"A majority of cabs are running in GHMC limits and other district cab drivers are extending their support. We shall hold a state level meeting on Monday to announce our future plans," he said.

"We have announced our agitations up to January 4, but we will decide the extension of protest programs on Monday. Till Sunday, we have adopted protest programmes following Gandhigiri," he said.

The association holds that owner-drivers of cabs employed by private services like Uber and Ola are getting a raw deal from their respective companies.

Employees working in software sector say the drivers’ strike would hit the IT sector which depends on them for transport of their employees. "There are nearly 35,000 cabs for 1,200 software companies in the IT corridor. About 3.5 lakh employees are utilizing the cab services per day in three shifts. During night shifts, the cab service is most essential for IT companies," a senior employee said.

The one lakh autorickshaws are not able to fill the gap. Nearly 50 percent are engaged in ferrying school children in the morning and evening. The other 50 percent are running as either a shuttle service or for passengers at railway and bus stations.

Even the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) is not providing any additional services to compensate the shortage of private transport due to the cab drivers' strike.

There are 3,800 buses of which 3,550 run regularly in 42,000 trips and travel about 9 lakh kilometres on 1,050 designated routes in Hyderabad. The remaining 250 buses are in the depot for scheduled work like cleaning, overhauling, repairs, etc. If the corporation runs an additional 200 buses, it will still not meet the requirement.

Protests at 1500 sites; Plying taxis stopped

Cab drivers with the Telangana Cab Drivers and Owners Association organised protest programs at 1,500 locations in the city on Sunday. They removed air from the tyres of cabs that didn’t participate in the strike and explained the reasons for the strike and demands from cab managements.

The protests were held at Kondapur, Gachibowli, BHEL, Chandanagar, Hitec City, Madhapur, Kukatpally, Moosapet Chowrasta, Sanathnagar, Balanagar, Secunderabad, Habsiguda, Uppal, L.B. Nagar, Karmanghat, Chandrayangutta, Aramghar Chowrasta, etc.

Association president V. Shiva said, "We are seeking talks with the managements. We demand that the government take the initiative. Our demands are very genuine. But the managements are making provocative moves against us. Today they announced a new scheme to lure drivers saying they will get Rs 15,000 for every 12 trips in a day. Until we get solutions, we will continue our agitations."

He said the association is planning to launch an indefinite hunger strike after January 5. He said that the association halted 98 percent of cab services from Monday, allowing the two percent that are engaged by government organisations, hospitals and emergency services. "Cabs that are carrying patients, families, children and pilgrims will be spared," he said.

Only Utoo is running its cabs. However, as Utoo is a new entry, it's not well equipped to meet the demand. Most of the time, the customers who are trying to book a cab are only getting 'not available in your area' response.