Disability rights activist refused cab ride in Chennai

Disability rights activist refused cab ride in Chennai

Disability rights activist refused cab ride in Chennai

The driver would not accommodate wheelchair

Disabilities rights activist Arman Ali, executive director of the non-profit National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), was allegedly off-boarded from a cab in Chennai as the driver refused to accommodate his wheelchair.

The incident occurred on June 19 when Mr. Ali was headed to the Chennai International Airport to catch a flight to Bengaluru. He subsequently missed his flight.

Posting his experience on his social media account, Mr. Ali said that after the first Uber taxi cancelled the ride, he booked another one. “However, after I got into the car and had my luggage put in, the driver was unable to put my wheelchair in the boot. I requested him to put it in the back seat, which he refused and said he didn’t want to do the trip. I was unceremoniously pushed out of the cab and he cancelled the trip,” he posted.

Mr. Ali said in his post that by the time he finally reached the airport after arranging for another taxi (not from Uber’s app), the counter was already closed and he was told that he had missed the flight. He then had to book another flight for ₹14,000 and the loss in time resulted in him missing a meeting scheduled for the same evening.

“Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon. Every day, people with disabilities face discrimination by Uber in some form or the other. Even after India has signed the CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and even after the RPWD 2016 (Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act) has been passed, there is still such discrimination against people with disabilities at every level. The government talks about PWDs [persons with disabilities] being divyang (divine bodies), but we are being treated like third class citizens and like burdens on society,” he said in the post.

Reacting to the incident, an Uber spokesperson said, “We do not condone discrimination of any kind and regret this unfortunate incident. Drivers who use the Uber app agree to accommodate riders with disabilities and must comply with accessibility laws. We have reached out to those involved to look into the matter and take necessary action.”

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Ali said many PWDs had responded to his post with similar experiences. “We want to take this to its logical end,” he added.

‘Total disregard’

Vijay Krishnamani from New Delhi, executive committee member of the Suniye Support School for Hearing Impaired Children, had spoken about a similar experience last year. “When Uber or any other organisation develops a mobile app or website, there is total disregard for people with disabilities, who account for about 10% of India’s population,” Mr. Krishnamani said.

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