Sofia Juliet/ The Hindu
Even as the city struggles to recover from the trail of destruction Cyclone Vardah has left behind, cashless ATMs and poor network connectivity have only added to the woes of residents. The disruption of mobile services has severely affected drivers and customers of taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber, who depend on GPS for rides. Many drivers, who resumed services on Thursday, had a harrowing time pinning down the location of the customers.
Muniyappan, a cab driver, said he had to deal with bookings getting cancelled throughout the day. “Most of the bookings I received showed incorrect locations. Since we depend on GPS to pick up and drop customers, it was tough to locate them as the mobile network was slow and often got disconnected. I called the customers to confirm the pick-up location but even to reach there, the GPS was necessary,” he said.
He said many of the customers were angry due to the delay and cancelled their trips while he was en route. “Fallen trees and branches are yet to be cleared from many routes. Traffic is slow as a result but some customers were not understanding when the cab did not reach on time. They just cancelled the trips while I was almost halfway,” he said, adding that it was a waste of fuel and effort at a time when demonetisation had already hit business.
“Most of the customers prefer to pay online or through mobile wallets. ATMs are still dry and with only a little cash in hand, filling fuel is a tough task. Most of us are refuelling on credit from petrol pumps. If the situation continues, our livelihood will be at stake,” he said.
Customers too struggled with the erratic networks. “It took almost an hour for the app to connect. But the location was different on my phone and the cab driver’s. So finally, I had to walk a few blocks away to take the cab,” said an Ola passenger.
A spokesperson of Ola Cabs said they were yet to receive any complaints about wrong locations being displayed or other issues arising from poor connectivity. She added that the app had been developed in such a manner as to link up the customer with the service even in times of poor connectivity. She added that with most of the mobile towers being run on generator sets, there could be call drops and some issues with connectivity, which were only temporary. (With inputs from R. Srikanth)