Delhi based social activist Neha Joshi has recently shared her own experience over a deeply concerning issue that seems to be a norm in many App based cab services in the country. Joshi has shared her experience of a late night cab ride by Uber on 12 February, where she found out that the driver who had arrived to pick her up from the airport, had faked his identity.
She also stated that this is the second time she has faced such an incident with Uber India.
Joshi has shared that she had booked an Uber cab from the IGI airport and had got confirmation that a driver named ‘Imrom’ is arriving in a white Dzire car. However, when the driver arrived, Neha, being alert for her safety, noticed that his face and age did not match what was being shown in the App. When Neha asked the driver what his name was, the man allegedly replied that it was Amit. On being asked whose vehicle he is driving, he replied that it was his uncle’s.
When Neha asked his uncle’s name, the driver could not even reply and the vague name he gave after Neha insisted was not Imrom, as claimed by the App.
Concerned over the issue, when Neha asked the driver to show his driving license, she was shocked to discover that as per the license, the driver’s name was Mohammad Irshad, not Amit.
I am expecting an answer from @Uber_India @Uber @Uber_Delhi ASAP. Attaching a screenshot of my ride confirmation as well as a picture of the driver’s license. Have blurred some details coz I am not targeting individuals but the buggers at Über who are putting citizens at risk (6) pic.twitter.com/fLZA1CpFzK
— Neha Joshi (@The_NehaJoshi) February 12, 2019
Neha had shared the image of the driver’s license and the screenshot of the confirmation she had received in the mobile app. Many Twitter users soon had pointed out that not just a fake identity, the driver even had a fake driving license too.
Neha had pointed out that the matter is of serious concern because thousands of women depend on app-based cab services and if a company has no system in place to ensure whether the driver picking up a customer is either Amit, Imrom or Irshad, how are they going to enforce the passenger safety guidelines.
App-based cab services send messages to inform a customer about the details of the driver. But, as Neha has pointed out, if the driver is faking his identity or using a fake license, as the driver of Neha’s cab was clearly doing, Uber simply did not have any mechanism in place that prevents it.
Neha had tagged Uber India and Delhi police in her tweet thread. Her tweet thread has since gone viral and after several hours, she reportedly received a call from a Uber India representative. However, she was shocked to find out that the representative had not taken the issue seriously at all. Instead, she was given a casual explanation over what should she do in case of a perceived emergency inside a cab.
Speaking to OpIndia, Neha stated that the casualness and indifference Uber has shown on the issue is of serious concern, because despite insisting that they have a system for strong background checks, they are refusing to admit that they simply have no means to ensure whether the driver whose background they had checked is driving the car or he had allowed another person to use his vehicle.
This, as per many users who had shared and replied to Neha’s thread, is a common occurrence and many claimed to have faced a similar situation. Neha also pointed out that this means the entire onus of ensuring the safety and taking precautionary measures (like calling emergency and asking for help from the customer service) is on the passenger alone. She pointed out that often, people book cabs for their old parents or there are instances where women are in a hurry so they do not verify the driver’s identity and simply trust the cab company.
The email Neha later received from Uber reportedly listed out the emergency steps, which Neha again points out, does not offer a solution because it just means the onus of establishing the driver’s identity is on the passenger and not the cab company.
The email also reportedly mentioned that if Neha wanted to pursue the issue legally, they have a legal team in place to respond accordingly. A very ‘official’ way of saying “Sue us, we dare you”.
Neha has clarified that she is pursuing the issue not to get compensation or apology. But she wants Uber to come up with an effective system to ensure the identity and authenticity of their drivers.
She has asked people on social media to list out how should the cab company be persuaded to take necessary steps in the direction. She had also tagged Delhi police but they have so far neither responded to Neha nor taken up the issue with Uber India.
Many Twitter users have pointed out that in the age of digital connectivity and high-speed data, ensuring the identity of a cab driver should not be that difficult for a company. Some doorstep service firms, like Urban Clap reportedly have an identity verification step when a beautician arrives at the house of a customer. The beautician has to click a selfie and upload in the app to confirm her identity.
Some people have also suggested an additional verification step, like the driver showing his driving license to the passenger and the passenger confirming the same in the app, before embarking on the ride, can be introduced to ensure the safety of passengers and affirm the identity of the person driving.
There have been many incidents of violence, loot, even rape and murder in cabs in recent years. Though not all incidents can be related to fake identities and fake documents being used, it cannot be denied that the lack of a mechanism to ensure the identity of the driver in a cab is a major safety loophole.
In case of a mishap, the confusion over the actual identity of the driver would simply result in delayed and misleading investigations. While the company might claim innocense citing its rules and guidelines, it will be the victims who would ultimately suffer. It is really concerning that instead of addressing the genuinely concerning the issue, the cab company simply seems to convey that it is the job of the passenger to ensure who is driving their cab.