Bike taxis like UberMoto, Ola Bikes may resume ops amid lockdown; govt suggests states to ‘explore’ them

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Updated: April 28, 2020 9:42 PM

Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari has suggested all state transport ministers to look into making app-based two-wheeler taxis operational particularly in rural areas.

Following the lockdown on March 24, cab and bike taxi companies such as Ola, Uber, Rapido had to halt operations across India.

Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday suggested all state transport ministers to explore making app-based two-wheeler taxis operational, particularly in rural areas to help farming communities with smoother movement during the Covid-19 lockdown. In a video conference with the state and union territories transport ministers, the minister said that “this will also provide new employment opportunities,” according to a statement by the road transport & highways ministry. UberMoto, Ola Bikes, and Alibaba’s BAce Capital-backed Rapido are among the leading companies offering two-wheeler or bike taxi services.

“Many farmers personally deliver their produce door to door to earn their livelihood. Their transportation from nodal points to the final destinations is a challenge in rural India. However, a robust and functional bike taxi ecosystem will offer practical mobility solutions for farmers and will help ease the burden of an ever-growing transportation strain on them for making deliveries,” Aravind Sanka, Co-founder, Rapido told Financial Express Online.

Following the lockdown on March 24, cab booking companies such as Ola and Uber had to halt operations across India even as the companies have launched multiple initiatives to support frontline workers and non-Covid patients. For instance, Uber Essentials and Ola Emergency services were launched to provide medical trips to and from hospitals. The two companies had also partnered with multiple state government to provide cabs for healthcare workers including doctors, nurses etc.

Comments from Ola and Uber are awaited for this story.

Also read: After demonetisation, fintech startups see silver lining in cloud of Covid-19 to push digital payments

Rapido, on the other hand, had partnered with state governments including Delhi and Karnataka to deliver essential goods to citizens and people in underprivileged areas in Delhi and Bengaluru. The startup had also partnered with retail chains such as Big Bazaar and Spencer’s Retail along with online grocery players including Grofers, BigBasket for last-mile delivery of orders.

The All India Agriculture Workers Union and the All India Kisan Sabha had earlier this month sought support from the government for bigger challenges faced by the agri community. “This (lockdown) has led to untold misery for the peasantry, agricultural workers, the poor and the toiling masses. Already more than 150 deaths are being reported due to the unplanned, unprepared and mismanaged lockdown and the accompanying loss of employment, earning, hunger as well as all-round distress,” Financial Express had reported citing Ashok Dhavale, president, All India Kisan Sabha as saying. Gadkari further suggested the ministers “to shift public transport to LNG/CNG, e-vehicles which will bring considerable savings on fuel bills and will help the environment being less/zero polluting fuels.”

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