The introduction of online taxis like Careem, Uber and Bayrak seems to have created competition for rikshaw drivers. Once the only option for commuters, the rikshaw has now become a secondary option for most.
“These taxi services have taken our customers,” said a rikshaw driver Hassan Abid.
The commuters who used rickshaw for travel now have a new facility to avail. They get a car on their doorstep on one call, said Afzal Ali.
Azmal Haal feels that the services have definitely affected his income as citizens now have another option and they prefer travelling by it. “Those who use the services went with us when there were no online taxis, but now there are these services and our customers have started using it,” he says.
Another rickshaw driver Mohammad Aslam who stands at Lalik Jaan Chowk doesn’t feel that the new service of cars and taxis has affected his income. He was of the opinion that only the richer class of the society prefers using it.
The taxis also stand here. When the rich commuters see the taxis they choose them for travelling, ignoring us. But people who can’t spend much do sit with us. Rich commuters are in a hurry and choose the cars because they don’t have money issue and the cars take them to their destination early, the rickshaw owner said.
Although they accept the threat to their income caused by these new services, many are content with their fate.
“Obviously it does affect our income, but we will get whatever God has planned for us. What I am destined to earn, I will earn. Allah has written everyone’s fate. This is how it works,” said Akbar Ali, a rickshaw driver.
“There is no such situation. People have started using it in the DHA area but it didn’t affect our income. What has affected us is the Daewoo that runs within DHA which costs only Rs. 20 from one area of DHA to the other. But the online services are not affecting our incomes at all. Not even a little bit,” said Asim Ali, a rikshaw driver at DHA.
Awami Rikshaw Union Chairman Majeed Ghauri said that their consumers don’t use the online service, so it is not a threat to them. They don’t use it regularly, he said.
Talking about the prices he said, “The taxi service seems cheap but when you travel in it you realise that it costs you a lot more than our rikshaws.”
He also said that the rikshaw is immediately available but for a taxi you have to wait and these days nobody has the time to wait. We have got into a habit of leaving with a margin of 10-15 minutes, he said.
Rickshaw drivers Jamshed Khan and Talat Mehmood who stand in front of services hospital said that they have not felt any difference in their earnings after the introduction of taxi and car services and they are the same.
“Those who want to go by a taxi will go by it and those who want to use rikshaw will travel by it,” said Talat Mehmood.
The rickshaw drivers also praised and encouraged the newly-introduced car and taxi services. “The services are good for patients as they cover long routes,” said Jamshed Khan.
Mohammad Arshad was also very content with his income. He said: “These cars and taxis didn’t make even a little bit of a difference. Their earnings are with them, our earnings are with us. The online service benefits the rich people. Poor people can’t afford it so they come to us. If somebody wants to go to the railway station, we will charge 70-80 rupees, the car will cost him 150-200. A poor man can’t afford to pay that amount for a ride.” A happy go lucky rikshaw driver said, “No issues with the cars. We are with everyone.”
Careem has already launched economy-class cars, reducing the prices of its rides to 30 per cent. The rates of cab services are expected to equal the rikshaw prices if more car services are launched.
When asked what will they do if the cars and taxis reduce their fares, one of the rickshaw owners replied that the rikshaw business will finish and the rickshaw drivers will also start driving taxis.”