The Ministry of Transportation served a notice on carpool aggregator Ola directing it to shut down. Ministry officials say the license granted to the aggregator under “Karnataka’s 2016 On-Demand Transportation Technology Aggregation Rules” has expired and continued service is against the rules.
L. Hemantha Kumara, Additional Commissioner, Department of Transportation and Secretary of Karnataka State Transportation Authority (KSTA) said The Hindu that the license issued to Ola expired in June of this year. “We issued it to Ola to provide taxi services in June 2016, and it expired. The aggregator has not renewed the license and is providing services illegally. In the formal notice, we asked them to stop the operations. They can only resume after license renewal.
Contacted, Ola did not give an official response. However, sources within the company claimed that, according to a notification issued on June 17, 2021 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the validity of documents relating to the Motor Vehicle Law of 1988 and the Central Motor Vehicle Rules of 1989 was extended. They claimed that the license granted to the aggregator is valid until September 2021. The source also claimed that Ola had already contacted the relevant authorities to request the renewal of the license.
Conductors on edge
Driver unions say the brawls between the Transport Ministry and Ola affect drivers who have tied their vehicles to the aggregator. MK Somashekar of the Namma Chalakara union said: “Department officials should take action against Ola if there is any misconduct on their part. Why are they targeting poor taxi drivers who have linked their vehicles to aggregators by booking checkouts and issuing challans? Drivers are nowhere responsible if the aggregator does not follow the rules as demanded by officials. ”
Asked about the reservation cases against the taxi drivers who had tied vehicles to Ola, Mr. Kumara said, “They can provide services individually, without tying vehicles to the aggregator.” Transport Commissioner MN Shivakumar was not available for comment.
This is not the first time that Ola has faced the wrath of the Department of Transportation. In March 2019, the department suspended the license for illegally providing bicycle taxi services. However, the suspension was revoked days after some cabinet ministers in HD Kumaraswamy’s government raised objections.