Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday booked the first Ola e-rickshaw ride, as part of the 'Stand-Up India' initiative, which the government took on to to promote entrepreneurship. The transport aggregator launched the 'e-rickshaw' category on its app in Delhi-NCR.
According to a statement from the company, Ola would be launching close to 5,100 e-rickshaws, in partnership with Bhartiya Micro Credit (BMC). These rickshaws will be deployed across Delhi, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida and Faridabad.
With this initiative, the platform would be bringing in rickshaw-pullers onto the platform. From an otherwise physically taxing mode of commute, rickshaw pullers and drivers now have an easier and greener alternative. The team at Ola aims to scale up the initiative in the coming months to smaller towns and Tier III cities, the press note said.
According to Pranay Jivrajka, COO, Ola, with increasing economic growth and rapid urbanisation, there is a growing need for environmentally-friendly initiatives. Additionally, the need for transport in smaller towns is higher, he had said in a press interaction earlier in the day. This initiative would give an opportunity for people in smaller towns to make use of a better mode of transport.
Minister of State Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma had said that the government was working towards ensuring better livelihood and opportunity-creation for people. He noted that e-rickshaws were not only sustainable but were also an effective solution when compared to pedalling a rickshaw.
Ola is also working to give existing rickshaw pullers the opportunity to enhance their skills and become driver-entrepreneurs. Along with BMC, the platform would also run skill development centres to enable training and skilling of several rickshaw drivers, the note said.
Over the past few weeks Ola has been in news for different reasons, be it the launch and subsequent shut-down of its bike taxi services or the legal tussle with Uber. However, the starting of e-rickshaw services for smaller cities and Tier III cities comes as good news.
While this is also a good show by the government as part of its attempts to foster the thriving startup ecosystem in the country, more such efforts need to be taken for the initiative to really take off. Ola, on its part, has to ensure careful screening and continuous quality check of its drivers.