Goans feel shamed, when taximen embarrass them
The inability of the government of Goa to resolve the taxi issue over the years has become a subject of embarrassment for Goans, while affecting the state’s tourism in the most adverse way
Ratish Prabhugaonkar, an IT professional working in Margao, is happy to be living in Goa and is more often than not, quite vocal about his love for the homeland. And while on most occasions, Ratish proudly flaunts his Goan roots to his non Goan friends, and the optimum quality of life that the state offers, there are some rare moments like the ones he is facing currently, where he could do without the ‘Goan’ tag. The prolonged taxi issue in the state and the government’s inability to allow private operators such as Ola and Uber to operate in Goa have earned embarrassment for Goans and made Goa a laughing stock. The convenience of app-based taxis is a luxury that a majority of the nation is almost used to, thanks to its sheer convenience and fair pricing. But Goa is yet to experience this luxury, well, because the taxi mafia still rules the roost. Ratish says, “We have become the butt of all jokes for our friends from metro cities. During the course of any conversation about Goa, the taxi issue is broached inevitably and made fun of. In my knowledge, never has the government of any state, endured ridicule from bullies for this long. The shame is ours.” For the uninitiated, a few weeks ago, the private taxi operators across the state went on a strike to oppose the installation of speed governors made mandatory by Supreme Court. And just when it looked like this is the closest that any government in Goa has come to put the taxi mafia on leash, the government authorities bowed down to the demands of the taxi operators yet again, thereby letting down all those who saw hope in witnessing a positive change in the state of affairs. Kirti Prabhu, a hair stylist from Mapusa, was also on the receiving end of ridicule from her friends. Kirti says, “My friends from Mumbai were recently in Goa. The flight fares were going cheap so they decided to make a quick impromptu trip to see me. The funny bit was that they paid Rs 1500 for their flight ticket and had to pay Rs 2000 for their taxi from airport to Mapusa. How does one justify this?” To support all those looking at Ola and Uber as a solution to the issue, a few volunteers spread across the globe have been running a Facebook page by the name of ‘The Taxi Revolution in Goa’. Mahesh Sardesai, an active member of the group, who is also running a petition on change.org – ‘Chief Minister of Goa: Support Goa Taxi Revolution’, posted on the group, “Why is the issue contentious? We all see a clear cut decision. We need taxi for general public, after that you can talk about tourists. Taxi operators don’t have a clue what is a taxi app. Even if they do manage to get one they will conveniently switch it off like meters. Who is really qualified to take a decision here in the interest of the general public? A delay will only mean loss of time and money and that too feeding the organisation that is proven to be threat to Goan society! (sic)” Another user by the name of Adolf Pinto Goa said, “If Taxi drivers do not want to work like drivers who slog elsewhere, it (is) because they and the politicians like Parrikar Bab, are part of the Goan Taxi Mafia. Let Parrikar Bab, give them special pension, but Ola & Uber must kick in soon. (sic)” While the proceedings in the real world may have been a disappointment, in the virtual world on social media, the cheer for introduction of app-based taxi services such as Ola and Uber has been louder than ever. We wonder what else it will take to bring some discipline into the taxi system in Goa and make Goa a better place for the locals and the tourists
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