It has been a high drama weekend for cab aggregator Ola in Karnataka. On Friday, the homegrown technology company was banned from running services in the state for six months.
Ola had earlier shared an explanation with the transport department on why it was still running the bike-taxi service in the state. The Karnataka government stated that it had found this explanation inadequate and hence issued a ban. The government also stated that Ola would have to surrender its license within three days.
However, on Sunday, Priyank Kharge, Karnataka Social Welfare Minister shared in a tweet, “Ola Cabs will run their business as usual from today.”
. @Olacabs will run their business as usual from today. However there is an urgent need for policies to catch-up with new technologies & also industries too should work closer with Govt to help evolve policies for innovations.
— Priyank Kharge (@PriyankKharge) March 24, 2019
Kharge further pointed out how policies in the state need to catch-up with technology. According to him, there is an urgent need for policies to catch-up with new technologies, and also, industries should work closer with the government to help evolve policies for innovation.
According to media reports, the official document revoking the ban will be issued on Monday. Ola operates in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubballi, Ballari, Belagavi and Kalaburagi in the state.
This is not the first time that there has been a crackdown on cab aggregators in the state. The Karnataka transport department had earlier cracked down on shuttle services such as ZipGo, bike taxis, and even car-pooling solutions as the regulations did not allow such operations. Even at that time, Kharge, who was then the Minister for IT & BT, had expressed the laws were regressive.
Twitter reactions on the ban and revoke
While a lot of Twitter users applauded the minister for his stand as well as the prompt action, there were some who were against it as well.
What was the deal? How much election fund raised by this order?if govt can revoke its own order within 2days then what's the urgency to ban Ola?govt shld have waited tl Court order on Monday which Ola wld have refferd
— Vijay Bangalore🇮🇳 (@vijaybangalore) March 24, 2019
Several comments on the ministers' tweet, indicated the move to be an election gimmick and questioned the ban and the move to revoke in such a short time. The comments also pointed out to the minister (with screen shots) how Ola was imposing surge charges despite the government setting an upper limit on fares.
What was the deal done for?
How many constituencies can it be managed?
Good keep it going.
— Chowkidar #ಮೋದಿಮತ್ತೊಮ್ಮೆ Modi once More (@JagatMitya) March 24, 2019
Tanveer Pasha, the President of Ola, Taxiforsure and Uber drivers and Owners Association, has also questioned the involvement of Kharge in the matter.
“It is said that the department has received a lot of complaints from drivers and consumers to revoke the ban and hence the action is taken. However, we have only one question, when the transport department made an official announcement of suspension of Ola's license, why is Mr. Kharge so eager to solve the problem and why is the announcement of the revoke not coming from the transport department itself?” commented Pasha.
Fantastic! This is the right approach to accelerate the country into the future!
— Aprameya R (@aprameya) March 24, 2019
Pasha and the association members had been working to build their own app called Namma TYGR, which was backed by H D Kumarswamy, chief minister of Karnataka. Pasha, however, mentioned that due to lack of funding they have taken a step back on the app and are on currently on the lookout for funding.
At the time of publishing this article, the official order to revoke the ban has not yet been released by the Transport Department.