Kochi: Organized unions of conventional taxi and auto rickshaw drivers prevented online taxies from entering the Ernakulam Junction (South) railway station on Tuesday, a day after the railway authorities allowed the cab hailing service to open a counter on the station premises.
The railway authorities let the online taxi company Ola, to operate a counter at the railway station premises after an earlier plan to set up a counter outside the station was foiled by the conventional taxi and auto rickshaw drivers.
On Tuesday, the drivers stepped up their protest and even forced shut the prepaid auto rickshaw counter at the station. They sat in protest in front of the station entrance from 10:30 am.
The agitators allowed online taxis that brought in passengers to the station but barred them from lifting passengers from the station.
They even forced passengers out of auto rickshaws as the police remained mute spectators.
Passengers who arrived by the Eranad Express, Venad Express, Jan Shatabdi and Kerala Express were stranded without any mode of transport.
Those who tried booking a cab online were told by the service providers that they could not get into the station.
Agitators had earlier ransacked an Uber counter at the Ernakulam Town (North) station but operations have resumed since.
Prepaid auto rickshaws have been out of action for several weeks in the station.
They allege that the police were of no help when the taxi unions created havoc in the station, forcing passengers to walk up to the Chittoor Road with small children and heavy luggage.
The online taxi services complain that they are faced with continuing resistance in Ernakulam while their counterparts are able to operate smoothly from the railway stations in Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur.
Complaints have surfaced about blocking of online taxis in other places such as Kacheripady. Employees of the Ola counter at the Ernakulam South railway station said they were told by a few cops to shut down and leave.
The railway allowed online taxi services to open kiosks and allotted them a parking bay in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam South, Ernakulam North, Aluva and Thrissur railway station to let passengers without smart phones to avail of their services.
Conventional taxi drivers said they saw the move as a threat to their livelihood.
The railway, however, rubbished the claim and said that the railway police would take legal action against those who intercepted passengers and vehicles to the station.
The online taxi services were allowed permits to operate in the station after inviting legal tenders, the authorities explained.
They also said that the prepaid system would work as usual.