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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Covid-19: Uber to offer cabs for essential services

  • Uber wants to offer mobility options for people in essential services, such as those working in banks and BPOs
  • Uber has also tied up with Big Basket to offer last mile delivery service of essentials to customers

NEW DELHI: Ride-hailing platform Uber is working with the government and law enforcement agencies to offer transportation for essential services providers and to the common man, in case of an emergency. India is on a 21-day lockdown that ends on 14 April to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"We are working on a service, and if supported by various government authorities, we can provide transportation when there is an essential use case (buying essentials such as medicines or daily needs, grocery)," Pradeep Parameswaran, president, Uber India and South Asia told Mint in a telephonic interaction.

The service is yet to be live.

The idea is to offer mobility options to general public and essential services providers such as those working in banks and BPOs, he explained. "Everything that we are doing is in close coordination with the local law enforcement authorities," he added.

The development comes in the backdrop of the three-week nationwide lockdown imposed by the government beginning March 25 to break the transmission chain of covid-19. There is a complete ban on public and private transportation, barring movement of goods, limiting these options even for emergency.

In the last one week, Uber has announced a few more tie-ups to offer transportation services.

On Thursday, the ride-sharing company said it has tied up with Big Basket to offer last mile delivery service of essentials to customers in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Noida. The tie-up was announced amid the shortage of delivery staff, who are either reluctant to step out due to the fear of local police or have temporarily migrated to their villages or hometowns.

Along with this, the ride-hailing platform has also launched UberMedics which is focused on transportation for healthcare workers who are finding it difficult to reach work and back.

These tie-ups are expected to provide income opportunities to cab drivers who are currently out of job.

"Almost all that we are doing is on the basis of what the society needs and what we are good at," Parameswaran said.

Without divulging details, Parameswaran said Uber plans to come up with a financial package and a wider insurance cover for its drivers to mitigate the hardships currently faced by them.

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