Bengaluru-based riding-hailing service Ola has launched the ‘Ola Emergency’ service on its app for people who need to get to a hospital in case of a medical emergency.

The service is backed by the Ministry of Health, Government of Karnataka. “After the lockdown, for Covid-19 all 108 ambulances are being used. To ensure citizens are not troubled, Ola has come forward and will transport people with all cases of medical trips and emergencies that don’t require an ambulance, between homes and hospitals, for a minimal charge,” said B. Sriramulu, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka.

Transport services are skeletal at best now because of the lockdown to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, which has infected more than 6,400 people in India and 1.5 million worldwide. Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Ola suspended had suspended full services about a month ago.

Ola Emergency rides will be equipped with masks and sanitisers and will be operated by specially-trained drivers. Rides can be booked to over 200 hospitals and are available all across Bengaluru. The service is expected to soon launch in other major cities.

Ola has also collaborated with the government and its stakeholders to help ferry senior citizens in need of medical support across Bengaluru, and Hubli-Dharwad. Its ‘Ola Foods’ service helps provide migrant workers with quality, hygienic food in Bengaluru.

“Ola Emergency will help thousands of citizens get access to quick, convenient and safe transport for trips from home to hospital and vice versa, amidst the minimal availability of transportation during this time. With a dedicated network of sanitised cars and trained drivers, the service will be available 24x7 on the Ola app for citizens of Bengaluru,” Ola spokesperson Anand Subramanian said.

Ola Foundation, the social welfare arm of the company, had recently launched the ‘Drive the Driver Fund’ with an aim to support cab, auto-rickshaw, and ‘kaali-peeli’ taxi drivers across the country.

Meanwhile, Uber India has partnered with retail chains in the county to deliver groceries to people who cannot go out. It has tied up with Walmart-owned Flipkart to deliver essential items in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. Flipkart said that this collaboration will keep vital supply chains running and will address the growing needs of customers to receive essential goods at their doorsteps every day.

“This partnership is to help move essential supplies from its sellers/vendors to customers in the shortest possible span of time. Flipkart remains committed to supporting our customers and we are mobilising all possible options to ensure that in this national fight against Corona, we can support the governments, by delivering essential supplies to people who are staying indoors,” Rajneesh Kumar, chief corporate affairs officer, Flipkart, said.

Uber is also working with BigBasket and Spencer’s Retail for the same purpose. “This tie-up helps keep the economy running and enables Indians to stay at home in line with government guidelines for containing Covid-19, as well as creates earning opportunities for drivers. Uber will not charge any commission, enabling drivers to keep 100% of billed amounts,” said Prabhjeet Singh, director-operations and head of cities, Uber India and South Asia.

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