Coronavirus: Ola in talks with States, Centre to offer vehicles, kitchen services
Ride-hailing major Ola is in discussions with various state governments, as well as the Centre to offer its transportation and kitchen services amid the 21-day lockdown across the country.
Ola, which is already working with the Karnataka government, will extend its transportation services to help facilitate the transit of healthcare professionals, senior citizens, government officials, and quick response teams who need mobility options.
Ola Co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal in a tweet said:
"Thank you Sir! We re humbled to join hands with GoK and other state Governments in offering all support we can in these times. @Olacabs driver-partners and @Olafoods_India kitchen staff are proud to join various essential service providers in #IndiafightsCorona #StrongerTogether".
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan in a tweet said Ola has agreed to provide 500 vehicles for COVID-19 related activities in Karnataka.
He added that these vehicles will be used for commuting by doctors and for COVID-19 related activities.
According to sources, Ola is engaged in conversations with Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Telangana, and similar proposals have also been sent to Health Ministry and Prime Minister's Office.
A source said government departments are helping with required permits and procurement of protective gear wherever applicable to ensure the safety of the drivers.
Also, driver earnings on a cost-to-cost basis are being provided by the government.
Ola has also offered to prepare food from its cloud kitchens (over 40 in six cities) and transportation of the food to major nodal centres for the government to supply to medical professionals, daily wagers, migrant labourers, and security teams on ground, the source added.
An e-mail sent to Ola did not elicit a response.
On March 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a three-week national lockdown as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
About 1,071 people in India have tested positive for coronavirus so far, with 29 deaths being reported.
With the implementation of the lockdown, the government has allowed only people in essential services like healthcare, banking, and media to commute. Limited mobility options have made it difficult for these people to travel to their workplace.
(Edited by Suman Singh)