Maharashtra government wants you to feel ‘extra safe’ in a private cab
MUMBAI: The rape of a woman passenger by an Uber cab driver in Delhi last December brought focus on the safety of women using these cabs. Although no such case has been reported in Mumbai, the incident spurred the state transport department to lean on cab operators and aggregators to implement a raft of measures for the safety of women.
The transport department has asked operators to introduce foolproof checks, such as driver-neutral GPS (which cannot be switched off) and live tracking from a control room.
An official from the transport department said at least three meetings have been held with aggregators, fleet cabs and other operators. “We have submitted a list of their drivers to the police to get the credentials verified. Additionally, the operators have been asked to set up a distress helpdesk for passengers,” he said.
But the move has lost steam with the transfer of former transport commissioner Mahesh Zagade. Only some companies have complied. For instance, Meru and Ola have installed panic buttons, which enable passengers to summon emergency help, in their cabs. But Uber is yet to implement this. An Uber spokesperson said the panic buttons are only effective 25% of the time. “In addition to causing confusion, we found not only are the buttons prone to wear and tear, but also mechanical malfunctions. It is not feasible.” “We are willing to install the panic buttons only if there is one switch, and the duty to install them is on the cab owner.” A new law that will make it compulsory for all taxi aggregators to register with the transport department and follow guidelines is also in the works. “We want to bring aggregators under the ambit of state legislation so we can control their activities,” said transport minister Diwakar Raote. “A draft of the proposed law is uploaded on the transport department website,” he said.
Transport commissioner Sonia Sethi requested feedback from citizens on how to strengthen the new Act, which can be given till June 30.