Ride-hailing company Ola on Friday committed Rs 500 crore to be spent in the next one year towards various safety initiatives globally in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ola, which has resumed operations across the country and is now available in over 200 cities, has unveiled a new initiative ‘Ride Safe India’ that will cover all modes of Ola’s offerings, including cabs, three-wheelers, and two-wheelers, according to a statement.
The company has set up a network of over 500 fumigation centres across the country at various hotspots and airports to enable mandatory fumigation for all vehicles every 48 hours.
This will be above and beyond the routine wiping down and sanitisation of high touch surfaces of vehicles by drivers after every ride, the statement said.
It has also introduced dedicated training modules and certification as part of Ola’s focus on driver safety. This will also include strict adherence to daily temperature checks and wearing of masks through the selfie authentication mechanism.
“From monitoring wellness of drivers to integration with the Arogya Setu app, technology innovations will help shape the new norm in the mobility industry. Ola has also introduced five layers of safety that include strictly adhering to steps that ensure the highest standards of safety and hygiene for every ride,” Ola said.
An Ola spokesperson said mobility is at the core of economic and social progress and the country at this time needs substantive action and sustained innovation to be able to revive from the effects of the pandemic.
“We have already pioneered a series of initiatives, including regular driver wellness checks, vehicle fumigation protocols and mask-detection technology, among others, to raise the bar of safety for consumers and driver-partners. We are taking this further by building a robust network of over 500 fumigation centres across the country,” he added.
He further said the commitment of Rs 500 crore towards various safety initiatives globally in the time to come will help in paving the way for new standards of mobility in the post-COVID-19 world.
India had announced a nationwide lockdown from March 25, which left driver-partners of cab companies with no source of income as these firms were not allowed to operate. After 40 days of lockdown, some relaxations were provided in the third phase (May 4 onwards) and these companies were allowed to operate in orange and green zones.
In the fourth phase (which ended May 31), these players were allowed to operate in most areas (except containment areas) depending on state regulations.
However, ride volumes remain low compared to before the beginning of the outbreak. Industry watchers are hopeful of demand picking up as more offices open and people resume work.
The lockdown had impacted the ride-hailing business significantly. In May, Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal had said the company’s revenues had declined by 95 percent in the previous two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. He had also made it clear that the prognosis ahead for the business is “very unclear and uncertain” and the impact of this crisis is “definitely going to be long-drawn for us”. The company had also announced laying off of 1,400 staff from its rides, financial services, and food business.
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