March 25, 2015 / 5:33 AM / in 3 years

Delhi government asks federal ministry to block Uber, Ola apps

The logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone over a reserved lane for taxis in a street is seen in this photo illustration taken in Madrid on December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - New Delhi authorities on Wednesday asked India’s federal information technology ministry to block the taxi-hailing apps of U.S.-based Uber and its local rival Ola in the city in a bid to enforce a ban on the companies’ services.

India in December ordered all unregistered web-based taxi companies to halt operations until they obtain an operating license after a driver contracted with Uber was accused of rape.

The ban, however, has largely been ineffective and both Ola, backed by Japan’s SoftBank Corp, and Uber have continued to operate in Delhi while their license applications are pending.

The Delhi authorities told Uber and Ola to stop operating if they want their license applications to be processed. Now, the city believes blocking the apps is the only way to enforce the ban, a Delhi government official said, declining to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A spokesman for Uber declined to comment, while Ola did not respond to a request for comment. Officials at the federal information technology ministry were also not immediately available for comment.

Online taxi companies see a lot of potential in India, a market Ola estimates to be worth between $8 billion and $10 billion.

The India ban is the latest in a slew of global problems facing Uber, which has come under scrutiny for alleged violations, including using unlicensed drivers.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Malini Menon and Miral Fahmy

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