[By KV Kurmanath]

Even as IT-BPO firms and several other business entities are allowing their workers to work from home to keep Novel Coronavirus at bay, thousands of drivers running Ola and Uber services see an increased risk as they travel with potential carriers of the virus through out the day.

“We talk to them while driving, we handle cash. We don’t know which one of them is exposed to the virus,” Amar (name changed), a driver registered with Uber said.

Amar wears a mask, but is not sure whether where all the infected person leaves traces of the virus.

The Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT) is worried too. It feels that the driver partners in all the top Coronavirus-affected cities of Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad and Pune are still offering services, exposing themselves to the infectious disease.

It demands Ola and Uber to set up an task force with top executives to address the new challenge, distribute advisories, sanitisers, disinfectants and safety masks to drivers.

“Partner care teams safety response teams should be available 24×7 for any concerns that may arise for driver-partners and customers respectively,” Shaik Salauddin, National General Secretary of Indian Federation of App Based Transport Workers, has said.

“Many companies in the country have allowed their employees to either work remotely from their homes or even go on paid leaves. But that’s not the case with driver-partners of cab aggregators Ola and Uber,” he said.

He cited the example of a Pune driver, who contracted the Covid-19 infection after ferrying a couple from the Mumbai airport to Pune.

He claimed that the aggregators have not issued any advisory to their driver partners despite the fact the Novel Coronavirus infections are being reported from all major cities.

Shaik Salauddin said that the firms should educate the drivers on how to face the challenge. The drivers should be given advisory material, sanitisers, disinfectants and safety masks.

Citing reports of cab aggregators in the US announcing quarantine of the affected drivers and paid leave to them, he said the drivers in India too would require such protection.

~source