While on the one hand Goan cabbies are fighting with the government to revoke the Goa Miles app they are facing the challenge of installing the digital meter on the other hand as the High Court of Bombay at Goa has issued a notice to all the cabbies to get the digital meter installed on or before 1st August. This action came into force following the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa and other stakeholders of tourism had approached the High Court over the installation of the digital meter in tourist taxis.
The tourist taxi operators in the state are against the installation of digital meter as well as the app-based service as they need the free hands to levy the charges based on the time and location, but the stakeholders of the tourism industry are more concern about the falling number of tourists in the state and they feel that the major reason behind the same is rising free will of the taxi lobby.
According to the report published by The Navhind Times, The state government on Friday informed the High Court of Bombay at Goa that the installation of digital meters in tourist taxis will start from August 1. The state government also told the High Court that the installation of digital meters will be mandatory from August 1 onwards for getting new license or renewal of license for tourist taxi.
According to the reports, installation of the digital meter on all the tourist taxis in the state will complete within six months time and the process for the same will begin on 1st August 2019, “Pilot basis the installation of digital meters in tourist taxis will be done from July 16 to July 31,” said the sources.
The High Court observed that the controversy concerns the provision of digital meters for taxis in the state. Pursuant to what was communicated to the court on the last occasion, the Advocate General confirmed that the state transport authority has approved the minutes referred to in the order dated June 21, 2019.
The minutes provide for the manner of implementation of automated tracking device with an integrated emergency system and fare meter in passenger taxis. The decision taken by the state transport authority in this behalf, which forms part of these minutes, outlines the manner in which the implementation would be carried out first on a pilot basis and later, after finalizing the modalities, by installing devices in all motor cabs.
The High Court directed respondents, state of Goa and others that to proceed in accordance with the decisions taken in the meeting and which form part of the minutes.It was, however, clarified that instead of July 1, 2019, to July 15, 2019, the implementation on pilot basis shall be conducted between July 16, 2019, and July 31, 2019, and installation in cabs on a regular basis shall begin and will be concluded within six months from August 1, 2019. Looking at the new development it does not look like that the taxi lobby will be in a position to pressurize the government anymore.
Meanwhile, the local daily Heraldo called it the victory of the tourism stakeholders that had sought to streamline of taxi services in the state. There will be more escape from the installation of the digital meter as it will be mandatory for renewal of licenses as well as obtaining new licenses in the future.
In this fight, TTAG is not alone and the support of the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and other stakeholders is also there with them. Meanwhile, High Court alleged that the government was illegally and unconstitutionally keeping in abeyance implementation of the decision and sought directions for its immediate enforcement.
TTAG has termed the order as a big victory. “It’s a big victory for TTAG. We hope Chief Minister Pramod Sawant ensures implementation of the meters soon,” TTAG president Savio Messias told Herald.
The fight which began in the year 2015 with the Transport Department by issuing a notification to all the taxi operators to install the digital meter as it is mandatory but it was kept on hold due to undue pressure from taxi lobby in the state. The Taxi operators had launched massive agitation across the state against the installation of the digital meters.
Sources have informed that the Transport Department has already finalized an agency, after following the bidding process, to begin the implementation. It is learned that the agency has 3,000-odd meters ready for installation, while more are being manufactured. Goa Electronics Limited will develop a Central Tracking Record System to track data from vehicles fitted with the devices.