Rapido flays Maharashtra ban on bike aggregators, may challenge it

Bengaluru-based bike aggregator Rapido has slammed the Maharashtra government’s decision to ban such private aggregators and ride-pooling vehicles from plying, and said it will examine legal remedies, here on Saturday.

Referring to the state government’s notification of Thursday (January 19), a Rapido spokesperson said that this could adversely impact livelihoods and opportunities of over 200,000 bike captains.

Besides, the company claimed the ‘arbitrary decision’ will deprive millions of citizens from availing a reliable and efficient mode of local transport, and throw them at the mercy of poor transport facilities and lack of urban infrastructure which doesn’t provide a low-cost last-mile connectivity.

Rapido said it is planning a legal challenge for the rejection of its licence ostensibly as the government lacks the will to formulate a policy in this regard.

The state government’s move came barely a week after the Bombay High Court (January 13) had rapped the ‘illegally run’ Rapido and ordered it to disable its app within one hour and suspend all its services in the state till January 20.

A division bench of Justice Gautam S. Patel and Justice Shivkumar G. Dige had warned that if the company did not suspend services immediately, it would permanently bar it from getting a license and impose a heavy fine.

The court’s order came in a petition filed by Rappen Transportation Services Pvt Ltd — which operates Rapido bike taxis in Mumbai and Pune — challenging the state government communication of December 29, 2022, refusing to issue it a bike taxi aggregator licence.

Advocate General Dr. Birendra Saraf had informed the court that the state government has appointed a committee to examine the issue, and formulate guidelines on various aspects, including safety, before licensing.

However, he said that Rapido was operating illegally without a licence and said first it should discontinue the illegality before coming to the court.

The state government had also produced a list of all such aggregators including two-wheeler and three-wheeler services for passengers and goods.

Providing statistics, the 7-year-old Rapido said that there are over 200,000 bike captains and 120,000 auto-rickshaw captains in Maharashtra who cater to around 22,00,000 customers daily through nearly 87,000 rides, presently operating in Mumbai and Pune.

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