Goans by nature are very helpful of course except for some exceptions. The strike called out by the Goa Taxi Operators have led to disrupting the entire tourism industry in Goa. with thousands of people traveling to Goa to take advantage of the Monsoon tourism packages offered by the various hotels in Goa, the strike of Taxi has spoiled all their plans. The major setback comes to the elderly people whose we address as Senior Citizens, but to save them from all the troublesome Good samaritans from across the state have formed a WhatsApp and Facebook group called Go Goa.
according to the report published in the Times of India, Senior citizens had to bore the worst brunt of the taxi strike as many of them, with health issues, were forced to walk several kilometers to get the transport. Ashok Bannerjee, 82, sat on the stairs of an ATM at the Goa airport for two hours on Saturday waiting for a taxi. Meanwhile, his son Debojit ran from pillar-to-post spending most of the afternoon figuring out how to transport his diabetic parents from the rain-soaked platform to their hotel. “I come from a chaotic city like Mumbai, but haven’t seen such an inefficient system like this,” Debojit said.
“The inconvenience is huge because there is no way we can approach people and find out what is happening. We were asked to download the GoaMiles app to book a cab, but it takes time to download. Also, the prepaid taxi counter and rent car services are inoperational. We’ve come here for a quick holiday and the entire day is wasted. There is no infrastructure where we can find out what’s happening,” he added.
Senior citizens like him, arriving and leaving Goa from the airport, were at the receiving end of the statewide taxi strike. Besides having to wait for hours until they could figure out transportation, the seniors were forced to stand or sit on stairs due to lack of seating facilities.
E Fernandes, 81, a wheelchair-bound senior citizen, who was traveling with her granddaughter, said, “Taxis in Goa charge double the amount and stop away from the destination, refusing to move until they are provided more payment. This is an attack. At the airport, we have been stranded for almost an hour due to them going on strike. How are we to commute?”
Kesubhai Patel, 76, had come to Goa along with three other friends, also senior citizens, for a program in Goa. He left for the airport on Saturday well in advance of his flight timing after hearing about the strike but was forced to stand for an hour-and-a-half due to lack of seating facilities outside. “There is no seating arrangement here unlike the Ahmedabad airport. I’m undergoing treatment for knee pain. It is a problem for youngsters to stand for over an hour, how do older people like us stand for so long?” he said.
Meanwhile, a group of good samaritans from across the state joined hands to combat the taxi strike by offering to shuttle stranded locals and tourists for free via a WhatsApp group. Started on Saturday morning, the group had 200 members by afternoon. Passengers were added to the group by scanning a QR code that was displayed at the airport.
“The group is for a specific purpose — to ease the problems tourists are going to face because of the taxi strike. Every time a taxi strike takes place, the government is forced to agree to the unreasonable demands of the operators. It’s time the people of Goa realize we must have a competitive system, which benefits the consumers,” one volunteer said. Volunteers met people and asked them to join the group. “It’s like a carpooling concept. People on their way to work, or wherever they’re going, can offer tourists or locals a ride. This is specifically for all the tourists stranded due to the taxi strike,” one of the group admins said.
“People have the power to make a change, pool in and make sure that the transportation happens smoothly even when the taxis are on strike so that the taxi operators realize that they have to fall in line and do what’s good for the consumer,” the volunteer added. About 40 rides were completed on Saturday by 9 pm. The WhatsApp group was maxed out with members by the end of the day since the threshold is 256 members. A Facebook page was thus created to accommodate more members and reach out to commuters in need of transport.
Post-strike, they intend to continue with the group. “Anyone who wants to help Goa’s image as a tourism destination, and wants to do something for Goa, is welcome to put in their suggestions and together we can make a change,” the admin said.