The decision to launch an app-based taxi service by the Government of Goa was met with much opposition from many taxi drivers and owners. Many refused to join the app while several others threatened to stage protests. The cabbies urged the government to understand the economic and social challenges caused by the introduction of the app before anything. Despite the repeated opposition from so many taxi driver’s unions and associations, the Goa Taxi App was launched in Goa.
The ‘Goa Taxi’ app was jointly launched by the Tourism and Transport Department and is run by Goa Electronics Limited, a State-owned company. The opposition to app-based aggregators began as early as 2018 with the launch of GoaMiles, a privately operated taxi service app.
“The Ministers had come out claiming that they would call all taxi associations to join the app. But, no one has contacted us. This shows that the Government has no intention of helping the Goan taxi owners” said Chetan Kamat, President of the All Goa Tourists Taxi Owners Association.
The taxi drivers voiced their concerns regarding the loss of livelihood that will be caused by the cheaper fares offered by app-based taxi services. Just a few days ago, taxi operators met the tourism minister and said that they refuse to join the Goa Taxi app.
Taxi owners near the airports voiced their strong opposition to taxi aggregators. Many associations such as the Greenfield MOPA Airport Taxi Association, MOPA Airport Local Taxi Association, and MOPA Airport Taxi Association have come together as ‘Together for MOPA Airport’ to oppose app-based taxi service at the airport.
“We do not want app-based taxi service. We will not allow app-based service” said a senior leader of ‘Together for MOPA Airport’. Across the tourism belt, several meetings were held by the taxi drivers and owners to collectively oppose app-based taxi services. Taxi drivers have refrained from joining the app and also refused to use the digital meters provided by the government as a clear opposition against taxi aggregators.
One of the concerns as per the Transport and Tourism Ministers is that some taxi drivers smear the reputation of Goa as a state by arbitrarily charging the tourists exorbitant fares and also by the behavior of the cabbies with tourists. This according to Godinho is the main reason that the taxi driver orientation program has been made compulsory for all taxi drivers in Goa. The government insisted on the necessity of app-based taxi services for the survival of the tourism industry in Goa. Tourists are already troubled by the difficulties faced to commute locally with high taxi fares and difficulty to arrange a taxi. Therefore, the introduction of big app-based taxi aggregators is a change for the better for the tourism industry of Goa and all its taxi drivers. It is a way to ensure the survival of tourism in Goa in the long run.
The opposition by the taxi drivers against the “apathetic” government schemes that risk their livelihood is a cause for concern with the preexisting local transport problems in Goa. Taxi drivers of Goa strongly oppose the Goa Taxi app and app-based taxi services in general. The government insists on the importance of app-based services but the local body of taxi drivers reduce to budge and remain resolute in their decision to oppose. Local transport issues and taxi driver unrest amplified.