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Goa Miles is here to Stay Claims CM, While Micheal Lobo Supports Taxi Operator Lobby

The Goa Miles imbroglio continues to gain momentum with the Chief Minister adamant about his support to the app-based aggregator and All Goa Taxi
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The Goa Miles imbroglio continues to gain momentum with the Chief Minister adamant about his support to the app-based aggregator and All Goa Taxi Operators Association demanding it is scrapped.  In a turn- around now Deputy Speaker and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, as well as Benaulim MLA, are unequivocally supporting the tourist taxi operators lobby. Goa can hardly hope for any progress in the face of such mafias holding them to ransom.

If Deputy Speaker and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo seemed to be placating the government and taxi operators on the escalating warfare between the local taxi operators and GoaMiles app-based taxi services, he has now done a turnaround, unequivocally supporting the tourist taxi operators.  The recent meeting between the Chief Minister, representatives of various taxi associations and representative of GoaMiles has left the issue with gaping holes with the threat of a strike looming large.

Tourist Taxi Counter at Goa Airport (File Image)

According to the Times of India, he has categorically asked the Chief Minister that no GoaMiles taxis be present at dense passenger destinations like hotels and railways stations. “Goa Miles should not pick up a passenger from Karmali, Tivim and Margao railway stations and hotels as a lot of taxi operators stand outside to pick up tourists,” he stated adding that it would only lead to fights between the two.  Requesting that this issue be resolved soon, he said: “Taxi operators are already paying a fixed amount to the railways for the stand.”

Lobo also pointed out that GoaMiles has been illegally displaying their rate card at the airport.  The amount he states should be displayed on the application. Appealing to the Government to protect the interest of Goans involved in the taxi business, Lobo refuted charges by Tourism Minister, Manohar Ajgaonkar that taxis overcharge.  “Not all Goans are overcharging, but at times there is 10% overcharging,” he stated.

Looking for a solution and emphasizing the need for transparency, Lobo argued that since the taxi operators did not want to use apps, the government wanted to fix digital meters in taxis.   Benaulim MLA Churchill Alemao has also come out in support of the taxis and endorses Lobo’s stand, stating that taxi drivers should be residents of Goa for at least 15 years.

Agitating Taxi Operators (File Photo)

However, Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant who has been backing the GTDC commissioned GoaMiles since day one has refused to bow down to pressure and is adamant that the government will continue to support GoaMiles. “Use of an app-based technology is the need of the hour,” he reiterated.  His meeting jointly held with MLAs, Ministers, representatives of various taxi associations and GoaMiles have yielded no results.

“GoaMiles will continue its operation in the state, but we have to resolve some of the issues that taxi operators have, which includes pickups from hotels., railway station and airport by GoaMiles,” Sawant said while adding that another meeting would be held in a fortnight to resolve these issues.  In the meanwhile, he has once again appealed to taxi operators, who own two or more taxis to enroll with GoaMiles.  He pointed out how local taxi operators, seeing the benefits, were slowly being convinced to switch to the app-based aggregator.

Sawant also addressed the issue of illegal taxi operations in the State that needed to be weeded out. “Around 1000 operators were renting out about 18000 bikes and another 2560 cars for self-drive in Goa. Only 500 of these are operating legally.”   GoaMiles, he reiterates, was started to curb these illegal activities and benefit the taxi operators.

However, according to a Times of India report, The North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association (NGTTOA) were unhappy with the fact that the State government had introduced the app without taking them into confidence. “There is no government notification about app hailing services in Goa.  In 2014 the government had notified the taxi rates which we are following and we will continue to operate on those rates,” they said. It may be recalled that in 2012, this lobby had agitated against the introduction of Ola cab service in Goa.

Tourist is always at receiving end (File Photo)

All Goa Tourist Taxi Association President Chetan Kamat says they are firm on their decision to reject the GoaMiles app-based service and demanded it is scrapped immediately. According to The Goan, the Association has given the government time up till July 15, to coincide with the monsoon assembly, to meet their demands, failing which they would take to the streets along with their dependents if they do not get a favorable response.

The war only seems to be escalating.  While the government, on one hand, wants to stand firm, those with vested interests like Lobo and Churchill are opposing it, standing in support of the local taxi operators.  Will this issue be resolved in an amicable manner, or will Goa witness another strike and agitation like that done against OLA cabs a few years ago, when the operators blocked an entire bridge to bring home their message.

Source: TOI | The Goan

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