Ola Back on Bengaluru Roads As Karnataka Govt Revokes Ban But Policy Ambiguity Continues To Haunt Cab Hailing Services
Ola Back on Bengaluru Roads As Karnataka Govt Revokes Ban But Policy Ambiguity Continues To Haunt Cab Hailing ServicesOla (PTI)

The Karnataka government on Sunday (Mar 24) announced that it was revoking the suspension that it had slapped on popular cab aggregator Ola, just two days after it issued a notice banning the service from operating in the state for six months. The company’s permit was placed under six-month suspension on Friday (Mar 22) for running bike taxis without authorisation.

The state’s social welfare minister Priyank Kharge said it’s “business as usual” for the ride-hailing app and exhorted the government to closely partner with tech companies on policies for innovation.

Kharge, who had held IT and BT portfolio in the previous Congress government, also said that “Technology has been ahead of policy because of fast-paced innovative experiments. There was no provision for aggregators in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, but governments formed policies after Ola and Uber arrived,”

The ban was revoked after Ola executives held detailed discussions with chief secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar and agreed to pay a penalty charged by the government.

Ola reportedly sought the intervention of Kharge on Friday after its licence was abruptly suspended for six months.

Ola and Uber began an experimental bike taxi service in March 2016 but shut it down after officials warned that there was no legal provision for such services. Rapido however still continues to offer the service despite crackdowns.

The state government has been accused of maintaining regulatory ambiguity despite request for framing rules on bike taxi

The recent ham handed suspension by Regional Transport Office of Ola’s licence for running motorcycle taxis brings in to the focus the issue once again.

Ola has maintained that the bike taxi services were offered only on a pilot basis to assess the demand.

Last October, in response to criticism on the absence of last-mile connectivity undermining the adoption of city’s public transport system, the state government announced that it formed a high-level committee to look for solutions, including bike taxis.

The panel, which comprised of heads of departments associated with transport, including the traffic police, with the managing director, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited, was given a 15 day deadline to to offer recommendations for an “efficient and sustainable transport system in Bengaluru”.

It is known if the panel has made any policy recommendation on bike taxis.

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