CM warns of action amid Goa taxi wars

CM warns of action amid Goa taxi wars

Sawant's assurance come at a time when taxi drivers attached to Goamiles, a taxi service operated by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation, along with a private entity, were assaulted and threatened in various places across Goa by local taxi drivers, who have complained that the app-based taxi service was impacting their livelihood. (DH File Photo)

Amid increasing threats to drivers attached to Goa's only app-based taxi service, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday warned protesting local taxi operators of strict action, while also urging them to enrol with the app-based service.

Sawant's assurance come at a time when taxi drivers attached to Goamiles, a taxi service operated by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation, along with a private entity, were assaulted and threatened in various places across Goa by local taxi drivers, who have complained that the app-based taxi service was impacting their livelihood.

While an Opposition MLA Nationalist Congress Party's Churchill Alemao has been accused of threatening Goamiles taxi drivers in Colva village in South Goa, a village body in North Goa, the Anjuna-Caisua panchayat, which is home to popular beaches and frequented by tourists, has banned the app-based taxi service from its jurisdiction.

"We will not tolerate violence henceforth. The taxi operators have to try Goamiles on a trial basis and if it is not affordable they can come to me. We can discuss what can be done," Sawant said.

The Chief Minister also said that all tourism industry stakeholders had to take steps to feel tourists more welcome in the coastal state, which attracts nearly seven million tourists every year, out of which half a million are foreigners.

"If we describe inbound tourists as 'Atithi Devo Bhava', the least we can do is offer them taxis at good prices. There are app-based and metered taxis around the world. Only Goa does not have them," Sawant said, adding that the government would provide full protection to the app-based taxi drivers.

Despite the recent surge in tourism, civil society groups as well as the Opposition have complained that the state lacks adequate infrastructure and public transport mechanisms. There are no metered taxis in the state and efforts to make installation of meters in cabs, despite a High Court ruling, has been opposed by taxi driver associations, most of which are linked to politicians.

In 2014, after a brief period of operation, the state government was forced to stop Ola cabs operations, following protests by taxi drivers. There are around 10,000 taxis operating in Goa. 

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