Panaji, June 4 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday urged protesting tourist taxi operators to sign up for the state’s only app-based taxi service and warned of strict action against any further attacks on its drivers.
Speaking to the at the state Legislative Complex here, Sawant said that if tourists arriving in Goa were referred to as ‘Atithi Devo Bhavo’, the least that the government and people of Goa could offer them were taxi services at fair prices.
“If we call the inbound tourist as ‘Atithi Devo Bhavo’, we have to offer him taxis at good rates,” Sawant said.
Over the last two days, there have been several instances of GoaMiles’ — a private-public enterprise started by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation — drivers being roughed up by local taxi drivers.
The Anjuna-Caisua village panchayat in North Goa, in whose jurisdiction sevaral beaches are located, has also passed a resolution boycotting the GoaMiles taxis from its jurisdiction.
Sawant implored all taxi drivers in Goa to sign up for GoaMiles, which he said, promised better returns, while also assuring full protection to app-based cab operators.
“We will give full protection to app-based taxis. Those who have taxis should come under the app-based umbrella. No one should oppose them. I had on Monday met the app-based taxi operators. Their income has doubled from before. The taxi association and agitators should come under GoaMiles on a trial basis for 15 days or one month,” Sawant said, adding that it was imperative to boost tourism in Goa.
“If we want to improve tourism in Goa, we should have app-based taxis. There is a need to offer taxis at good rates to people. The cabinet is united in this… No further violence would be tolerated”.
A section of of Goa’s 10,000tourist taxis and the drivers who man them, 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-metre system have failed, even as members of taxi lobby have also attacked tour coach buses ferrying foreign tourists, accusing tour operators of depriving them of business.
The state also attracts more than seven million domestic tourists every year, who often face hardship due to overpriced and irregular public transports system.
Ola taxi services were introduced in Goa in 2014, but were soon stopped by the state transport department following protests by local cab operators.