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Bike taxi drivers write to CM over ‘conditional’ switch to yellow number plates

Bhubaneswar: The ‘All Odisha Online Bike Association’ that represents interests of aggregator-run bike taxis has written to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik demanding unconditional and phased conversion of white number plate bike taxis in Bhubaneswar.

The Driver Union’s letter follows a recent ban on white number-plate bike taxis in Bhubaneswar after which major bike taxi operators Uber and Ola have limited their operations with only those who are using yellow number plate bikes. The aggregators have shared emails and in-app messages with both riders and drivers informing them about the decision and requesting drivers to convert to yellow number plates to be onboarded again.

In the letter, the bike taxi drivers allege that the sudden decision by the ride-hailing aggregators Uber and Ola to stop allowing white number plate bikes on their platforms has adversely affected their livelihood. The Driver Association fears that a similar decision by food-aggregators Zomato and Swiggy will result in extreme distress where they will “not be able to earn a living and provide for [their] families.”

The letter also focuses on the Transport Department’s decision regarding requirement of a no-due certificate from banks, and clear all pending traffic challans as part of the process to convert white number plate to yellow commercial number plates. Drivers assert that they come from “humble backgrounds” and this condition for converting number plates is making it difficult for them to obtain commercial number plates and resume driving again. “We want to be law abiding, and have full intention to convert our bikes to yellow plate, but the major concerns are pending challans and requirement of no-due certificate from banks. Also, we urge you to reduce the permit and fitness fees incurred during the yellow plate conversion process”, the letter says.

The letter also requests a one-month moratorium to allow drivers to convert their bikes into commercial vehicles while permitting them to continue driving during this period. The Driver Union had previously written to the State Transport Authority last month but is yet to get a response. White number plate bike taxi operations for Uber and Ola continue to remain shut in the city which puts the future livelihood for an estimated 10000+ bike taxi drivers in Bhubaneswar under a cloud.

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