Uber’s ride just got bumpier after Zaheer Mohammad, a Uber cab driver in Hyderabad, committed suicide on Tuesday owing to a severe financial crisis due to what is being alleged as false promises made by the company management. After post mortem, the body was kept in front of the Uber office at the Jubilee Hills locality in Hyderabad. Hundreds of Uber drivers staged protest and demanded compensation to the deceased.
Incidentally, Uber and the Telangana government have signed a MoU for investing $50 million for creating jobs and opportunities in the state. According to Telangana State Cabs and Bus Operators Association (TSCBOA) president Syed Nizamuddin, the Uber management is yet to meet the agitating drivers. He said that Zaheer Mohammad, who was with the company for the last eight months, committed suicide as he could not repay the loans and was in deep financial crisis. He was also participating in the ongoing agitation for last eight days.
However, Uber officials said that the management has spoken to family, but no compensation was paid as of now. “As the police confirmed this morning, Zaheer Mohammad tragically took his own life after a dispute over some land. Our hearts go out to the family at this incredibly difficult time. We have reached out to the authorities to offer our assistance,” Siddharth Shankar, GM, Uber Hyderabad, said in a statement.
Recently, a delegation of drivers, working with Uber, had even called on chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao and home and labour minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy seeking Telangana government’s intervention to make Uber management fulfill their promise.
Led by Telangana State Cabs and Bus Operators Association (TSCBOA), the Uber drivers said that the issue involves the lives of over 15,000 drivers. They complained to the home minister that drivers, who were working with different cab operators, were lured by the Uber Cabs, an aggregator in travel industry. The drivers quit their regular jobs and join Uber by purchasing a new taxi. Each of them was paid Rs 5,000 as joining incentive and another R5,000 was paid to the driver for each reference which he made, they said.
“The company promised business of at least Rs 70,000 per month. The offer was so lucrative that thousands of drivers purchased taxis by borrowing huge loans on high interests. Many of them sold their house or wife’s gold to buy the taxi. With the promise made by the Uber, the drivers were hopeful of repaying the entire loan amount in less than six months,” the drivers said in their representation.
However, Nizamuddin said that the Uber’s strategy to lure drivers was not aimed at helping them. They wanted to destabilize the regular tour operators in the city who are associated with service industry, especially the Information Technology sector. Due to sudden pull out, the regular operators faced shortage of over 15,000 drivers and therefore, they were unable to provide promised service to their clients. The Uber achieved its goal of sabotaging the organized tour operators. However, they left the drivers to their fate, Nizamuddin said.