Mobile internet suspension cripples cab, food delivery services across UP

App-based cab aggregator services such as Ola and Uber were disrupted across Uttar Pradesh after the State government ordered a suspension of mobile internet in 22 districts.

A spillover effect of the cabs going off the street was a massive dip in the sale of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). According to residents, the services of food delivery services such as Swiggy and Zomato were also offline.

CNG sales hit

In Lucknow, the three primary outlets of Green Gas Ltd (GGL), a joint venture of GAIL (India) Ltd and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, saw a substantial drop in CNG sales.

The impact of government crackdown on internet services and imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 was evident at the Green Gas outlet in Vibhuti Khand, Gomti Nagar. On an average day, sale from the outlet ranged between 20,000 kg to 24,000 kg of CNG. A 500-metre stretch in front of the station was usually chock-a-block with vehicles on both sides.

But the station has been deserted with hardly any line-up of cars since the mobile internet ban from December 19. Officials said the low footfall was despite one of the three large CNG stations in the city being shut down on the directive of authorities citing security threats because of protests. Some CNG retail business was also hit as cabs ferrying students were off the road since schools were shut down.

Food delivery

The service of app-based food delivery companies such as Swiggy and Zomato was also hit. “We had started delivering to nearby housing societies through the apps and the dependence was growing. But now I think it’s best to start communicating directly with consumers to keep business afloat,” a food van operator told BusinessLine.

Monday morning was the fourth consecutive day of internet services remaining disrupted across the State.

“If the ban continues, it will be difficult for us to earn our livelihood. The new year is coming and footfalls are usually higher this time of the year. I also have to pay monthly instalments (EMIs) for the vehicle I drive and a few more days of internet shutdown would mean doom to me,” an Uber driver said. He, like most of his colleagues, is now trying to ferry passengers without the support of the app, but business has been substantially hit.

Some cab drivers also tried to stay within a WiFi zone, such as their home, in hopes of getting bookings from customers whose broadband services have not been disrupted. But the numbers are very low.

Gloom all around

“In addition to the inconvenience, I feel cheated. The mobile internet plan I have opted for gives me up to 2 GB free data every day. But it expires in a month. If the services are disrupted like this, the telecom company will get the money from me without the services promised,” said Shashi Shuka, a city resident.

Traffic diversions and disruptions continued through Sunday with the city’s prominent Hazratganj market seeing fewer footfalls. Residents from the old city also reported heightened security checks and restrictions on movement.