Taxi operators irked over use of open jeeps by tourists

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PANAJI: Probably the trend of traversing Goa on two-wheelers by tourists will be shortly taken over by open jeeps. Open jeeps have found favour with young tourists coming to Goa in groups for a holiday. The style of moving in open air jeeps by tourists is more evident in the coastal belt of North Goa, including Calangute, Candolim and Baga. As per a rough estimate around 600 jeeps must be in use, says the North Goa tourist taxi association (NGTTA). Vasudev Arlekar, president of NGTTA, alleged that most of the jeeps which are rented to tourists, mostly Indian, are private jeeps and operated illegally. The NGTTA had dispatched a complaint letter to the traffic cell, but so far there has been no action. “Nobody seems to care about these illegalities,” he said.

A taxi operator in Panaji, who did not wish to reveal his name, said some taxi owners in North Goa, own jeeps for renting. “If tourists here demand a jeep, we arrange it though an operator in Calangute and Candolim,” he pointed out. Inquires revealed that certain groups in North Goa, who are in the tourist trade, keep their private jeeps for renting to tourists as it brings more money than giving a car on rent. During normal season, an open jeep can be rented for 2,000-2,500 a day, and during peak time, for 4,000-4,500 a day. “We are tired of complaining to authorities as illegalities continue. They ask for number of the vehicle when we phone them to complain. Can’t they see how tourists travel in private jeeps,” a taxi operator pointed out.

A beach shack owner in Candolim, on conditions of anonymity, said, that some taxi operators and hoteliers have discovered renting jeeps, a new means of earning handsome income. Arlekar is irked as authorities seem to look the other way even when jeeps are run packed beyond capacity. “Boys and girls move in open jeeps, drinking, playing loud music,” he said emphasizing that the government should act fast before any accident occurs.

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