Drivers working for cab-aggregators Ola and Uber have threatened to go on a strike from September 1 across Delhi-National Capital Region if their demands, including fare increase and extension of the period for loan repayments, are not met, PTI reported on Thursday.

Kamaljeet Singh Gill, president of Sarvodaya Drivers Association of Delhi, said around 2 lakh drivers will take part in the strike.

Delhi residents may find it difficult to commute if the strike is held as metro services are still suspended and buses are running with reduced capacity in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

The cab drivers are demanding an extension on the loan moratorium, higher fares, a cut in the commission charged by cab aggregators, and the withdrawal of e-challans issued against their vehicles for speeding, the Hindustan Times reported.

“After the lockdown, our condition had deteriorated,” Gill said. “The number of clients has come down to just 10%, as most people are still working from home. The drivers are struggling to make ends meet. We have sent letters to the Prime Minister [Narendra Modi], the Union finance and transport ministers to urge banks to extend the relaxation on paying EMIs [equated monthly instalment] till December 31 this year.”

Apart from the loan, Gill said, drivers have to pay huge penalties for speeding. Gill said the drivers have received about 10–20 challans for driving above 40 km per hour, adding that speed limit for private cars is 50 km per hour.

He said that a driver now makes Rs 150–200 per day after the deduction of 26% commission by the cab aggregators, maintenance and fuel charges. “This is much lower than what we made in pre-Covid days,” Gill said. “Back then, if a driver worked for 14–15 hours a day, he would take home around Rs 800-900 after deducting all the charges. It is a huge difference and we request the government to save our livelihoods otherwise drivers will have to sell their cabs or the banks will take them away.”

On higher fares, he said that the fare has been fixed at Rs 6 per km by the cab aggregators. This is lower than government rates for taxis that can go up to Rs 12 per km. “If the fare is hiked to at least Rs 10 per km, it will help us earn more and will only be fair to do so,” he said.