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Tussle Between Taxi Operator Groups Affecting The Revival of Tourism Industry In Goa

Tussle Between Taxi Groups
A clash between Goa Miles and Tourist Taxi Operators at Dabolim Airport in Goa

A Traditional Taxi Business in Goa which is running for several decades is a local taxi operator with Yellow/Black and White Taxis, but with the boom in tourism the scenario changed, and more and more players started entering into the business but the tussle between the taxi groups began when Goa got its first APP Based Taxi Aggregator called Goa Miles. 

The entry of Goa Miles into the Taxi business generated huge discontent amongst the local taxi operators since they started feeling threatened of losing the business. But the question here is why this happened? What Goa Miles did which made the taxi operators in Goa feel insecure? and how the tussle between the APP aggregator and local taxi business created a negative impact on the Tourism Industry of Goa? Let us take a look at it in this article…

First of all, we need to understand that Goa Miles is not a Taxi Operator but it’s an APP Aggregator that allows any taxi operators in Goa to be a part of it and do the business with complete transparency. That means, even the local taxi operators can be a part of Goa Miles APP at the same time they carry on their own business (trips) with their Taxi. 

Despite the fact mentioned above the local taxi operators are not happy with the Taxi APP Aggregators. A regular scuffle between tourist taxi owners and drivers of taxis operated by an APP Aggregator Goa Miles, a private company authorized by the state Tourism Ministry to operate aggregator taxi services in Goa is affecting the peaceful environment of the Hospitality Industry in Goa.  

Goa has almost come out of the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic with the cases coming down in the state with a zero mortality rate and the tourism industry is on its way to revival, but the tussle between Taxi Operators and the Taxi APP aggregators is not coming to an end leaving the tourists in a dilemma when they come to engage the taxi service on the airport. 

According to the reports, the latest development in the tussle is about picking up of the passengers from the airport or hotels, the local taxi operators do not allow the Goa Miles operated cabbies to pick up the customers from either place creating a scene in front of the passengers. How do you feel when you are on your vacation and book your cab being unaware of the tussle between the Local Taxi Operators and Goa Miles (APP Aggregators)?

The report published by the IANS news agency suggests that the Taxi Drivers attached to the Goa Miles APP Aggregators are being hounded out by the local taxi operators. “We have the necessary licenses. This is the official taxi app service operating in Goa. We are providing taxi services to tourists and locals at lower rates. And yet we are being intimidated whenever our drivers respond to calls in certain areas,” says Parashar Pai Khot, director (Operation) at Goa Miles.

According to the reports, last month around two dozen persons, including several tourist taxi owners were booked at the Anjuna police station for assaulting a Goa Miles taxi driver, who had responded to an online booking made by a customer located in the area. Similar incidents have also occurred in popular beach villages like Calangute, Baga, where Goa Miles taxi drivers have been intimidated or roughed up.

There are cross complaints from either side, even the Local taxi Operators alleges that the Goa Miles Drivers Intimidate them when they go to pick up and drop the passengers at the Goa Airport. “They also employ such tactics at the Goa Airport where our drivers are intimidated,” Chetan Kamat, spokesperson for the All Goa Tourist Taxi Union said.

Goa is one of the Major Tourism destinations in India that has a big lobby of the local taxi operators, around 10 thousand odd tourist taxis have been intimidating the system in Goa for several decades and have often been accused of overcharging, threatening passengers, and operating in an unregulated environment.

The State government has also failed to install and implement the Fare-Meters on Taxis in the state despite their several attempts. Every time the Government announces the installation of the meter the Taxi Operators start agitation in the state holding the Tourism business to ransom. 

They do not allow any private cars to pick or drop the tourists at the Hotels or airport stating that it deprives them of their business. In one of the incidents, the members of a tourist taxi lobby have also attacked tour coach buses ferrying foreign tourists.  

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 Goa Miles a couple of years back.

The conflict between Goa Miles drivers and tourist taxi operators had flared up last year, with a flurry of First Information Reports being filed, following assaults and a series of intimidatory acts by the latter.

When Incredible Goa staff reporter spoke to the Director of Operations Mr. Parashar Pai Khot about the background reality of the Taxi Services in Goa and entry of Goa Miles he said that Goa has around 10 thousand Taxis registered with the Transport Department out of which nearly 2000 taxis are Yellow/Black that runs from the various Taxi stands in Goa including the Goa’s lone airport situated in south Goa.

“Out of the 8000 taxis that remains behind, 30 percent (2400) taxis have gone out of the business and from remaining 5500, 2200 taxi have been registered with the Goa Miles,” he said adding that out of the 3,400 taxis, 1000 have not registered with any association in Goa. “Now what remains is 2,400 Taxis out of which 500 taxis belong to hoteliers, and remaining divided into south and north Goa and the figure of 33 thousand taxis given by the taxi operators is fake.” 

The new sparks to the same tussle have now forced Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar to weigh in on the matter.

“Goa Miles is necessary. We are not against tourist taxis. Tourists should not be cheated. Some taxi persons have cheated tourists, it is creating bad publicity elsewhere,” Ajgaonkar said, backing the aggregator service.

(with the inputs from IANS) 

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