Thousands of cabbies strike in Indian capital over rising fuel prices

New Delhi, Apr 18 (EFE).- Thousands of office goers and daily commuters had a harrowing morning in Delhi and adjoining suburbs as cabs stayed off the roads in the Indian capital Monday in protest against rising fuel prices, partly due to the Ukrainian war.

“We have called the strike against rising fuel prices that have affected not only us (the taxi drivers) but the general masses also,” Ravi Rathore, who heads an association of cabbies, told EFE.

The price of gasoline in New Delhi is currently 105.41 Indian rupees per liter (nearly $1.38) compared to 95.41 rupees per liter in mid-March when prices started to increase almost daily.

Diesel has also risen 11.5 percent since mid-March to 96.67 rupees per liter ($1.26), while natural gas (CNG), used by most taxi drivers in the Indian capital, has risen 21.3 percent to just over 71 rupees per kilo.

“The fares have not been revised for the last nearly 12-13 years even as fuel costs have increased manifolds during that time.” Rathore said.

He said between 200,000 and 250,000 taxis did not ply in Delhi on Monday as three-wheelers, known as rickshaws, also stayed off the roads in the crowded city of about 30 million people.

It was a harrowing longer-than-usual wait for those trying to book online rides on apps like Uber and Ola as commuters endlessly waited to hail a ride during the peak morning hours.

Rathore said the cabbies would call an indefinite strike if the government did not accept their demands.

The war in Ukraine has caused a hike in energy and fuel prices with the price of a crude oil barrel at $111.67 in mid-April.

But taxi associations are also unhappy with Uber and its Indian equivalent, the Ola company.

Rathore said the firms “exploit poor drivers to the core” with very low minimum fare “that does not cover even the basics.”

“The app-based companies pay us Rs.6.75 or Rs.7.50 per km. The companies cough up nearly 40 percent as commission. That is a massive exploitation. And that should end,” he said. EFE


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