Homegrown taxi aggregator Ola is likely to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Assam government to run a river taxi service in the state, a media report said.
“We are going have a deal with Ola in the next few months. They will conduct experiments to ascertain the water behaviour of Brahmaputra before beginning the service. There will also be a night navigation system in place. But once it begins, this will be a great help for the people travelling to airport or Palashbari as it will be much faster than the time taken by road,” state transport minister Chandra Mohan Patowary was quoted as telling the Times of India.
To boost the water transportation system in the state, those who build boats and set up their local businesses will be provided a subsidy of 30% by the government with a maximum limit of Rs 3 lakh. Women participants will be given additional 5% subsidy, the report added.
Ola is still in the process of signing the MoU and the firm will be able to comment on the specifics once all such formalities are completed, a spokesperson from the cab hailing firm told VCCircle.
The development comes at a time when Ola has filled its coffers to take on US-based Uber Technologies Inc. The two companies have burnt massive dollars in recent years to gain pole position in India’s cab hailing market.
Mumbai-based Ola, owned and operated by ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, last raised $1.1 billion (Rs 7,174 crore) in October last year led by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. It was also in talks to raise another $1 billion.
Besides raising funds, Ola is also expanding its service offerings. In December 2017, it acquired the Indian business of food delivery platform Foodpanda from its Germany-based parent Delivery Hero. It also committed to invest $200 million into Foodpanda India to expand its business, the cab hailing firm said then.
However, Ola’s fundraising activities have raised eyebrows among competitors. In October 2017, the head of Meru Cabs filed four complaints with the country’s antitrust watchdog, claiming that Uber and Ola were abusing their dominance in four different cities by burning vast sums of investor funds to distort the market.
In July last year, a mutual fund managed by US-based investment firm Vanguard Group marked up the value of its stake in Ola by 14.6%.