The Tourism Season is approaching and domestic tourists started flocking to Goa, and at this juncture, tourist taxi operators, who play a major role in the transportation of the tourists from the lone airport of Goa, have come up with the demand for uniformity in the price to ferry the passengers from Goa Airport.
The delegation of tourist taxi owners met the tourism minister Mauvin Godinho and other officials and placed before them their requests.
The most important concern of the taxi owners has been the uniformity of travel rates, as the owners allege that the fares offered by Goa Miles – the government’s app-based taxi service – are much lower than their rates, and as such, they are losing their business to several travelers who opt for the Goa Miles services.
Goa Miles currently mostly operates from the Goa international airport and ferries passengers across the state. The taxi owners, meanwhile, have made it clear that they do not approve the rates of Goa Miles, and want the rates to be increased as per their demands.
Currently, Goa Miles offers its services from the Goa airport at a minimum price of Rs 830, however, local taxi owners want the rate to be pegged at Rs 1,300.
“We want all uniform rates between Goa Miles and our taxi services. We are losing business because of their rates,” said one local taxi driver.
Claiming that taxi owners are struggling since the pandemic has resulted in serious challenges, the taxi owners have demanded the tourism minister make the rates uniform and suggested that business should benefit the locals.
“The rates should be uniform and government notified rates as per the official gazette,” they said. Besides the transport director, officials from the RTO were also present for the meeting.
Ravindra Vengulekar, vice-president of North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association said, “We explained to the transport minister that our business has been severely affected due to the coronavirus pandemic. He listened to us patiently. With no foreign tourists arriving in the state soon, only domestic tourists are going to come, and most of them come with their own vehicles. We have no business.”
Besides the uniform rates, the taxi owners have also asked for relaxation in the taxes that they have to be pay. The road and passenger tax, according to the taxi owners, were pending, and since they could not pay the dues during the lockdown, a penalty was levied.
The owners have been assured by the officials that the penalty will be withdrawn, however, taxi owners are waiting in eagerness hoping that the government not just withdraws the fines, but also the taxes considering their situation.
Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho has assured the delegation of tourist taxi owners association that the department will rationalize the fares and will look into all their concerns soon. He has stated that he will take up the issue, and call the owners association again to address the same.
The state government has said that it will also conduct an audit of all taxi services and other related issues.
Besides, taxi owners are hoping that traffic police stop harassing various taxi drivers by demanding various forms and permissions, and have asked the RTO to dissuade police officials from harassing taxi drivers unnecessarily.