Ananya Pathak
Road To Recovery

"We've earmarked ₹500 crore over the next year to ensure safety in mobility industry": Arun Srinivas, Ola

The cab-hailing service's CMO talks about the safety measures the company is taking to quell customer anxiety.

With the lockdown easing in most Indian states, cab-hailing platforms have resumed services. But the riders may still be anxious about their safety. Uber and Ola have, therefore, routed most, if not all, of their communication through the ‘safety’ gateway to address riders' hygiene concerns.

Uber, through its recent film #SafeForEachOther, has urged riders to ensure safety and hygiene in the cab to make rides safer for the next customer. Ola, in most of its communication since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, has highlighted the safety measures its driver-partners are taking.

The Bengaluru-headquartered company has installed protective screen between the driver-partners and passengers to ensure that social distancing is maintained. The health status of the driver-partners is being monitored through the government’s Aarogya Setu app.

“The health of all our driver-partners and passengers is our first priority, and as restrictions are eased, we remain steadfast in our commitment to catalysing innovation and ensuring that safe mobility solutions are accessible to all,” Arun Srinivas, CMO, Ola, told afaqs!.

Arun Srinivas
Arun Srinivas

With over 24 years of experience, Srinivas has domain expertise in marketing, and sales of mobility and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG). He joined Ola in July 2019, after having worked with Reebok India for five years (1996-2001), Unilever for 15-and-a-half years (2001-2017), and WestBridge Capital Partners for over two years (2017-2019).

“Since the beginning of the lockdown, we ensured that our driver-partners were equipped with all the information and resources to ensure their safety,” he added. All driver-partners registered with Ola have undergone a training module in English and 12 regional languages, which helped them to follow the mandated safety precautions.

These include deep sanitisation of cars using disinfectant liquids, regular wipe downs of surfaces with high touch points, practicing recommended personal hygiene, mandatory mask usage, maintaining hygiene equipment in cars, amongst others.

As a part of its safety initiative ‘Ride Safe India’, Ola has redesigned protocols, and included a stream of technology advancements and additions to its deep cleaning regimens to ensure consistency in safety across all vehicles: four-wheelers, three-wheelers, and two-wheelers.

Srinivas says, “With ‘5 layers of safety’ that include mandatory wearing of masks, pre-ride and post-ride vehicle sanitisation, flexible cancellations, regular temperature, as well as wellness checks and fumigation of vehicles every 48 hours, Ola is taking all relevant preventive and precautionary steps that will serve as best practices for the entire industry.”

Ola’s ‘5 layers of safety’ campaign, launched earlier this month, highlights the steps the brand is taking to enable safe rides.

  1. Driver-partners always wear masks, and this is mandated by Ola's selfie authentication technology, which verifies whether a driver is wearing a mask before every ride.

  2. They also undergo regular temperature checks, which are integrated into the app.

  3. Before every trip, all vehicles undergo deep sanitisation, wherein high touch points, such as door handles, seats, etc., are wiped down with a disinfectant liquid.

  4. All vehicles undergo a mandatory fumigation every 48 hours, facilitated across 500-plus fumigation centres (including hotspots and airports) in the country.

  5. To ensure social distancing, protective screens are being installed in all vehicles between the driver and passenger seats.

"All vehicles undergo a mandatory fumigation every 48 hours, facilitated across 500-plus fumigation centres in the country."

“We have set up a robust task force across 500-plus fumigation centres in the country to help ensure strict adherence to vehicle fumigation every 48 hours, and to ensure our driver-partners are enabled with safety equipment, such as sanitisers, disinfectants, and masks. This will be above and beyond the routine wipe downs and sanitisation of high touch surfaces of vehicles by drivers after every ride," Srinivas confirms.

Ola has earmarked a sum of ₹500 crore over the next year towards various initiatives to enhance safety in the mobility industry. Under this initiative, Srinivas states, “We have already pioneered technology initiatives around driver wellness, and mask detection technology.”

Throughout the lockdown period, Ola also ran emergency services in 20-plus cities to enable citizens to access essential medical care. Srinivas says, “We were able to translate our learnings from these operations to build a comprehensive safety and hygiene protocol, and scaling it to more than 200 cities today.”