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App-enabled river taxi service soon to ply in Guwahati, courtesy Ola


Amid whopping investments promise in Assam by industry stalwarts and the central government in the ongoing Global Investment Summit 2018, home-grown cab major Ola has inked a deal with the BJP-led government to enable app-based river taxi service in the state capital.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between SoftBank-backed cab hailing company’s Vice President Operations Vijay Ghadge and Minister for Transport Industry and Commerce Chandra Mohan Patowary, reports ET.

According to the MoU, bringing water taxis on the online platform, a localised and key mode of commute in the capital city will further strengthen the transportation ecosystem.

Importantly, Ola and Uber have been plying on the state capital road over the past three years. Uber made a debut in Guwahati in August 2015 while Ola had begun its service six months prior to a global behemoth.

The machine-operated boats which will operate as a part of the service are faster than normal boats, with better safety measures for passengers. Ola will pilot high-speed river taxis in collaboration with the state Inland Waterways department on the Lachit Ghat, Machkhowa to North Guwahati route, bringing the commute time down 2 to 5 minutes from 45 minutes by road.

App-based bookings will streamline demand, and enable advance bookings and cashless payments, ensuring a convenient commuting experience.

The river taxi will have night navigation system in a place and slated to be equipped with all other modern technologies. Notably, this will be bridging a major gap for the people traveling to airport or Palashbari.

Several estimations hint that it will take 12 mins to reach Palashbari and 15 mins to reach Guwahati Airport by river taxi. Additionally, one river taxi will provide ambulance service under 108 of National Health Mission.

In its press statement, Patowary added that with 30 per cent government subsidy – and an additional 5 per cent for women participants – with a maximum limit of Rs 3 lakh, will be provided to people who build boats and set up their local businesses to help the water transportation system.

The taxis are being made by private players who are using technologies to optimized them in Singapore and Netherland.

The robust growth of Guwahati, which is the centre of commerce in the North East has led to increasing the traffic woes in the capital city. The proposed collaboration may address this issue to some extent.

Ola who recently entered the international market has been aggressively investing and expanding its service to other verticals. The Bhavish Aggarwal-led company also acquired foodtech firm Foodpanda to give competition to already established players like Zomato, who recently got a $200 million investment from Chinese investment giant Alibaba affiliate Alipay.

Meanwhile, Ola rival Uber also trying hard to get into foodtech market in India through UberEats.

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