The Ernakulam Jilla Autorickshaw Driver's Cooperative Society (EJADCS) which comprises of six trade unions and is considered to be unique has won the renowned award for 'Innovation in urban transport during COVID-19' under the public transport segment at the Urban Mobility India (UMI) conference - 2020.
The awards are conducted by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, EJADCS defeated competitors like Kochi Metro Rail's last-mile services, Bengaluru and Chennai metro's e-mobility ventures to win the award.
The society amazed the jury by providing its relentless support for the works in these difficult times of COVID-19. The contest witnessed the participation of road transport corporations, metro rails,e-mobility ventures from all the states and union territories.
The formal announcement of the awards will take place on Monday. Taking into consideration the safety protocols related to COVID-19 pandemic the society even installed QR codes in every member's auto for contactless transactions.
Simon Edappally, director board member of the society talked about the initiatives taken by them to help the drivers and how they provided pollution-free travel to the public. The earnings of drivers have gone down from ₹1000 in the pre-COVID period to below ₹300 during COIVD. Using the CSR fund of various PSUs, they provided an essentials kit for every driver. Apart from this, they provided transparent physical separators for safety cabin in 320 autos. "Our member drivers have food packets prepared at their homes and water for the passengers who struggled to find hotels during the lockdown. The award committees have considered all these factors while choosing us for the award," Simon said.
The chairman of CPPR, a Kochi based think-tank D.Dhanuraj said that policy-level interventions were needed by Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA), in order to take the initiative to the next level.
"As part of ensuring last-mile connectivity for major transport segments, a clear-cut policy should be formulated by KMTA. Otherwise, such initiatives could not be sustained in the long-run," Dhanuraj said.
The launch of Ausa an autorickshaw ride-booking app is awaited by the society so that they can provide smooth and safe access to the customers.
They even introduced 'PetroCard' in association with public oil companies to give away a reward for the drivers on each time they fill fuel on their vehicles.
Simon also stated that they have also launched the logo of their Uber-model mobile app and it will be fully functional within a month. Playing as a feeder service to the first level transport like metro and buses, the app will assist passengers across Kochi. It will also help them to rent out an auto for an entire day. "We have also collaborated with supermarkets and shopping malls to safely provide essentials to the doorsteps of customers through our autos. We are also providing financial support to the members to buy CNG-fuelled and electric autos," said Simon.
The partnership of EJADC and Kochi Corporation to run 100 e-autos also helped them to win this award, reported New Indian Express.
The project is introduced as part corporation's Integrated Sustainable Urban Transport Systems for Smart Cities (SMART-SUT) scheme was supported by GIZ (the German Agency for International Cooperation). "Irrespective of political affiliation, the society is standing for the welfare of the employees," he said.
About 5,000 auto drivers are a part of the society till now and it aims at registering around 27,000 drivers of Ernakulam till the next year.