In yet another attempt of the state government to make the Taxi Men aware of the prevailing situation and told to be fair with the customers by telling them that “If you do not allow Ola and Uber, you will have to be Ola and Uber.” An issue of deploying the services of OLA and UBER in the state still remains in abeyance with Goa Taxi Operators prefers to remain tight-lipped over the issue. They are neither allowing the OLA and UBER to enter the state nor they are having any plans to adopt the system which is followed by the APP based services, claims the sources.
This could be considered as an ultimatum to the taxi operators in Goa and if they still try to remain stiff on their decision then getting the services of OLA and UBER may be the only solution, said the sources. According to the sources, the locals, as well as tourists, are having the grievances against the arbitrary fees charged by the local taxi drivers and operators for the decades but no government has done anything about it till date.
The business of taxi is considered as one of the major aspects of the booming tourism industry in the state which resulted in creating an avenue of self-employment for the Goan youth. But with the due course of time, the taxi operator lobby became the mighty and invincible with the help of political patronage. Finally, the situation reached to such an extent that even the hotel managements had succumbed to the pressure of taxi operators who did not allow them to use any other service to transport their customers other than than theirs.
The authorities completely failed to inject the discipline in the taxi operators which resulted into the unpleasant experience for the tourists coming to Goa, which is one of the best tourists destination in the world. All this just for one reason, the daylight “loot and plunder” by the local taxi operators. “It is pity that despite thousands of complaints against them the government has failed to offer any solace to the harried tourists, though the state has been benefitting most from them,” said the sources.
There is no doubt that it is the job of government to protect the interest of the locals and provide opportunities of self-employment to the youth of their state but the same cannot be done on the cost of rules and regulations. The sources have said that by allowing the taxi operators to make their own sets of rules for their businesses the government appears to have given legitimacy to their illegalities and if this continues then there is a possibility that other sectors might also follow the trend, claimed the sources.
“The government was quick in revising taxi fares upward despite the fact that the prices of petrol and diesel in Goa were on lower sides as compared to other states. The huge profits generated from this business helped the taxi operators to acquire more vehicles and press them into the service,” said the sources adding that some of the vehicles are not even registered as taxis but are hired out and the charges levied are same as those of taxis or even higher. It is not that the tourists alone who are being fleeced; even the locals in need of a taxi have to pay through their nose to avail their transportation services, claimed the sources.
According to the figures provided by the Tourism Department of Goa, the state attracts more than 6 million tourists in a year out of which around 20% are foreigners. According to the sources, in the foreign countries and in many states of India, app-based taxi services like Ola and Uber have made traveling easier, cheaper and faster. Due to its multi-city presence, customers find it convenient wherever they go. The app-based services have also become beneficial for all regardless of the fact whether you own a single taxi or have a fleet of cars. “Tourists coming from different parts of the world wonder why Goa, that has a high capita income and literacy rate in India does not have app-based taxi services,” said the sources.
The taxi owners in Goa have outright rejected the proposal of the government to run APP based cabs in the state claiming that it will not benefit them. According to the sources, the North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association (NGTTOA) has claimed that operating taxis through the e-platform will not benefit them in the long run, as, according to them, there are fewer taxi users in Goa compared to other states. Meanwhile, they have suggested the government start the pilot project with Black and Yellow AGT (All Goa Tourist) Taxis which are already fitted with the meters. “We doubt whether the traditional taxi operators and newcomers will get repeat business if they start operating taxis under an app-based system. Also, under the existing rates, which has not been revised for years, the situation will become worse. Therefore, we would request the government to run the app-based system primarily on the AGT and yellow-black taxis on a trial basis to understand its feasibility and only then we will agree to run our taxis digitally,” vice president of NGTTOA Ravindra Vengurlekar said.
It may be recalled that the same Taxi union had agreed before the Calangute MLA Michael Lobo on the Local APP based service but the same people are now going back on their words which are the effect of political patronage to the taxi operators in Goa. The taxi association claims that there are very fewer Goans make use of the taxi service in the state and compared to that the population of vehicles is very large. he demanded to install of meters with visible fire board at all prominent locations to bring in transparency.
“We have been labeled as cheaters but we charge little lesser than the actual fare. It is wrong to think that converting the service into an online-based taxi operation system would create more business and be a game-changer, as there are many taxis attached to hotels that ferry guests and chances of other operators getting business is out of question,” said the president of Goa Taxi Association Vengurlekar adding that owning a taxi and being a part of the online taxi service is easy, but remaining on that platform for long is difficult. “Employing a driver and managing expenses is difficult and if the car meets with an accident, it will add to the woes. The government must carry out a survey to ascertain our net income and expenses and I challenge the government to find a single taxi operator making profits.” He further demanded that the government should revise rated further as the operating the taxi service with an existing rates is not feasible.
The NGTTOA vice president said that mobile app-driven cabs such as Uber and Ola provide deep discounts to consumers. “Unlike regular cabs which have to abide by the government-mandated ceilings on their minimum and maximum fares, cab aggregators like Ola and Uber are not regulated under the Motor Vehicle Act, thereby allowing them to fix those limits. Also, the cab aggregators seem to charge higher fares through a practice known as surge pricing almost entirely at will despite efforts by certain states to curb the practice,” he said.
The prevailing condition makes it clear that the taxi operators will never come on the table with the local authorities and that they will keep pressing their weight until it is possible. This is the high time that government takes some drastic steps to bring the taxi fare in control and provide some relief to the annoyed tourists and local as well. If you wish to share your comments and suggestions please go ahead and write it down at the end of this page.
SOURCE: VARIOUS SOURCES
IMAGE SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS