What can a call taxi company do in a city where heavy flooding has turned streets into waterways? While Chennai is slowly recovering from the fury unleashed by the incessant rains and flash floods, Taxi operator Ola is winning wide appreciation for deploying boats with professional rowers to rescue people in the waterlogged areas to safer places.
The call taxi network is winning accolades at a time when other call taxi services in the city are facing public wrath for not deploying their vehicles for rescue and rehabilitation operations.
“Ola had deployed boats in waterlogged and partially submerged areas on the basis of information from the Fire and Rescue department. The boats were manned by professional rowers and also fishermen to rescue people and to provide food and drinking water free-of-cost,’’ said a company statement. Each boat was equipped with two rowers and sufficient umbrellas. They ferried between five to nine people in a trip.
“While we are addressing the increased demand for transportation in city, we are working closely with local stakeholders to help ferry those stranded in water-logged areas” said the statement. The boat service would be available for next three days and will be extended if water-logging continues, it added. Thousands of citizens have been stranded and suffered due to heavy rains and water logging in Chennai. Across Tamil Nadu, the flooding had killed over 70 people and rendered many people homeless.
According to an Ola spokesperson, it all started with a joke when someone tweeted a picture of Ola’s car-hailing app, modified to make it look like it included boat service: Ola, however, took the joke seriously and contacted local firemen and Chennai Sport Fishing Company to gather the details of local rowers and fishermen, and started the service. Several employees and drivers who work with Ola are also coordinating with the fishermen on the ground to enable smooth operations. Headquartered in Bangalore, the company is now five years old.