#Asia India’s Ola deploys boats to help those stranded in Chennai rains


Initially available for three days, Ola may extend the ferry service if needed


India’s largest taxi-hailing app Ola has added another dimension to its profile by offering boats free of cost to those stranded in flooded areas of Chennai, in southern India.

Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, has been battered by torrential rains for over a week, leading to the flooding.

The ferry service could also prove to be a strong branding exercise for the taxi and auto aggregator.

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The boats are deployed on the basis of information provided by the Fire and Rescue Department of Tamil Nadu.

The boats, manned by professional rowers and fishermen, will also be used to provide food and drinking water in specific areas which are reportedly short of basic supplies.

Each boat will be manned by two rowers and can ferry anywhere from five to nine people per trip. The Bangalore-based company is also providing rain gear to all rowers, which will help them ferry people without any hassles.

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“While we are addressing the increased demand for transportation in the city through the Ola app, we are working closely with local stakeholders to help ferry those stranded in water-logged areas. Boats deployed by Ola will help ferry people to safer areas and in distribution of essential supplies like food and drinking water in affected areas,” Ravi Teja, Business Head of Tamil Nadu at Ola said.

To guard customers from rain, Ola has also stocked umbrellas in every boat. Details of the rowers and fishermen were provided to Ola by local firemen and the Chennai Sport Fishing Company.

Initially available for three days, Ola may extend the boat service if water-logging continues in the city. Many employees and drivers of Ola are also coordinating with the fishermen on ground to enable smooth operations.

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Founded in 2011 by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, Ola claims to hold almost 80 per cent market share in the Indian taxi-hailing market, followed by global major Uber.

Present across 102 cities in India, the Bangalore-based startup has 250,000 cabs and 75,000 auto rickshaws on its platform.

Ola recently acquired smaller rival TaxiForSure, which continues to operate as an independent brand.

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