A case of mistaken identities happened in the country’s capital city last week when transport authorities started issuing challans to e-commerce and food delivery executives over a ban on bike taxis by the state government. But there were layers to this development that we explored through our stories during the week.
What happened? Over the course of the last week, e-commerce and food delivery executives were being penalised amid confusion, following the Delhi government’s recent public notice banning use of two-wheelers as taxis. Food delivery and quick-commerce platform Swiggy said that their delivery partners are being issued challans – an official document issued to a motor vehicle driver who violates traffic rules – despite the government notification being applicable only for bike taxi service providers.
What did the public notice say? The notice issued by the Delhi government last week warned bike taxi operators such as Rapido, Ola and Uber to not ply on Delhi roads as it violates the motor vehicle laws. It added that these companies could be fined up to Rs 1 lakh, as the use of bikes for commercial purposes violated the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
Why were those delivering food penalised? Interestingly, a top Delhi transport department official told us that cases where food delivery workers were being issued challans, they “might have been doubling up as bike taxis, which is not legal”. An executive with a food-tech company also alluded to the possibility of their workers “double-hatting”, or delivery partners working in multiple roles simultaneously.
Why are delivery partners double-hatting? Operating as bike-taxis and delivering food are complementary professions in nature for drivers. The lean hours of food delivery are actually peak hours for ride-hailing. This gives drivers the chance to earn more money from being in the gig-industry. Bengaluru-based Swiggy is even an investor in bike-taxi company Rapido, though the company has clarified that the investment is not strategic in nature.
How can this be resolved? Ashish Kundra, principal secretary and commissioner, transport department, Delhi told ET that the state government will ask food ordering and e-commerce companies to instruct delivery partners to not use their two-wheelers as bike taxis. However, companies believe it is difficult for platforms to ensure this does not happen. “These are gig workers, and by nature of this job, we cannot keep a tab or investigate what they do when they are not delivering for us,” the executive cited above said.
What next? The ban on bike taxis has been imposed with a backdrop of an aggregator policy that the Delhi government has been working on for over a year. Following the public notice, Delhi transport minister Kailash Gahlot had said that companies could apply for a new licence under the proposed policy. “Aggregator policy for two-wheeler, three-wheeler and four-wheeler is in its final stage and will be rolled out soon helping them to apply for grant of license under the new scheme,” he had said on microblogging platform Twitter. According to a draft of the policy, bike-taxis will be legal in the capital if it is an electric vehicle.
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ET Ecommerce Index
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(Graphics & illustrations by Rahul Awasthi)
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