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Goa’s Tourist Taxis at War Again with App-based Cabs

Many of the app-based taxi owners and drivers are also part of the village panchayat and the resolution passed by the panchayats will adversely affect their interests, the spokesperson added

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Calvim Ferry in Goa. Goa can be
Goa has the potential to become the Venice of the East if it taps its intricate network of inland waterways for commuting. Wikimedia Commons

The recurring war between tourist taxi drivers of Goa versus operators of the state’s only app-based taxi service, Goamiles, saw a sudden spurt over the last 24 hours, with several Goamiles taxi drivers being threatened, one of their taxis stoned and a coastal village panchayat poised to ban them from its jurisdiction.

On Saturday, Goamiles spokesperson Justine Nunes said that while the agency is authorised by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation, there are, however, vested interests who are creating trouble for its drivers, which is causing hardship to tourists.

“Lately lots of people with vested interests are working against this initiative and creating lots of trouble for the taxi owners and drivers who have opted to be a part of the Goamiles service,” Nunes said, on a day when Nationalist Congress Party MLA Churchill Alemao led a protesting group of taxi drivers to a tourist resort where Goamiles taxis were parked and stoned one vehicle, forcing the drivers to move their vehicles out.

“These Goamiles taxis are threatening the livelhood of our local taxi drivers. They cannot be allowed to operate in Goa,” Alemao told reporters.

“Goamiles is an authorised business initiative drafted and crafted by Goa Tourism Development Corp. This initiative is mainly in the interest of Goan taxi owners and tourists visiting Goa to have a win-win situation for all stakeholders,” Nunes said.

We feel this successful concept has been misunderstood by some local taxi owners due to vested interests of few,” he added.

A section of Goa’s 10,000 odd tourist taxis and their drivers have often been accused of over-charging, intimidating and operating in an unregulated environment.

Several attempts by the state government to install and implement a fare-meter system have failed, even as members of the taxi lobby have also attacked tour coach buses ferrying foreign tourists, accusing tour operators of depriving them of business.

Some years back, a flare-up between a Russian travel operator and a local taxi owner resulted in the murder of the latter, sparking hostilities between locals and Russian tourists, who account for a large chunk of the half million foreign tourists who visit the state every year.

The state also attracts more than seven million domestic tourists every year, who often face hardship due to the overpriced and irregular public transports system.

Photo: www.buzzparas.com

Ola taxi services were introduced in Goa in 2014, but were soon stopped by the state transport department following protests by local taxi operators.

Following complaints by tourists and tourism industry stakeholders about overcharging by taxi operators, the government-operated Goa Tourism Development Corporation partnered with a private agency to set up Goamiles a couple of years back as a response to some fervent petitioning.

But the politically savvy taxi lobby has been opposed to the app-based operator, claiming it infringes on their business.

On Sunday (June 2), the village panchayat of Anjuna-Caisua, in whose jurisdiction several prime beaches are located, has called an extraordinary meeting to pass a resolution to ban Goamiles cabs from its jurisdiction.

Goamiles has strongly criticised the move as being illegal and beyond the scope of a village panchayat’s duties.

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“It further points out that this move will affect hundreds of families in the village who are connected with the app-based service and earning a livelihood to support their families,” Nunes said.

The legal terms are clear. Many of the app-based taxi owners and drivers are also part of the village panchayat and the resolution passed by the panchayats will adversely affect their interests, the spokesperson added.  (IANS)

Next Story

Goa Tourism Department Giving Finishing Touches to its Anti-Litter Campaign

Those who are destroying the beauty of Goa by sitting with a beer on a beach and drinking openly or cooking with a cylinder or littering will be fined

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Goa, Tourism, Litter
The Corporation functions under the aegis of the state Tourism Ministry. Pixabay

The Goa Tourism department is giving finishing touches to its anti-litter campaign, which is aimed at deterring tourists from creating nuisance on beaches and public areas, that includes drinking and cooking in public or littering.

Speaking to reporters in Panaji on Friday after chairing a meeting of the Goa Tourism Development Corporation’s Board, the chairman Dayanand Sopte said, that the department is in the process of finalising the government agency for levying of fines on errant tourists. The Corporation functions under the aegis of the state Tourism Ministry.

“Those who are destroying the beauty of Goa by sitting with a beer on a beach and drinking openly or cooking with a cylinder or littering will be fined. We are in the process of finalising the agency which will impose the fine,” Sopte, a BJP MLA said.

In January this year, the state legislative assembly passed amendments to the Goa Tourist Place (Protection and Maintenance) Act, 2001, which prohibits drinking alcohol, cooking in public places, including beaches and breaking of glass bottles in public.

Goa, Tourism, Litter
Speaking to reporters in Panaji on Friday after chairing a meeting of the Goa Tourism Development Corporation’s Board, the chairman Dayanand Sopte said, that the department is in the process of finalising the government agency for levying of fines on errant tourists. Pixabay

Individual offenders from now will be fined Rs. 2,000 for the offences, according to the amendment. If the offences are committed by a group of people, the fine has been hiked to Rs. 10,000.

The crackdown comes amid demands from travel and tourism industry stakeholders who had blamed the Tourism ministry, for a drop in quantity as well as quality of tourists visiting the state in recent times.

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Goa is one of the top beach tourism destinations in the country and attracted nearly eight million tourists last year. (IANS)