Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said that
tourists should not be harassed. Vehicles coming from other states should be
checked at the border for documents and if cleared there will be sticker
affixed on the car which will be an insurance against any further checks while
the vehicle is in Goa.
However, the number of self-driven cars in all likelihood, cater to less than fifty percent of the transport requirement of tourists. Those unwilling to hire expensive taxis hire two wheelers or rent a cab. They however continue to get harassed, something which the givernemnt itself has admitted to.
In addition, in the ongoing tussle between tourist taxis and rent a cab, in Calangute they managed to impress upon the MLA Michael Lobo that there was an illegal rent a cab business being conducted in the area.
Even if there is, tourists not aware of the politics on the ground, would hire the taxis from the area and face the brunt of the police checking. This defeats the very purpose of the CM’s request that a sticker at the border would end the harassment of cars already checked. This then leaves us with the obvious question, what about cars hired by tourists here in Goa. How do we reduce these problems?
Videos keep popping up all over the internet of traffic police harassing tourists especially on the stretch from Calangute to Panjim and around Panjim circle. It is not uncommon to see touts and guides following tourist cars without helmet. They are not fined but at every junction tourists are harassed by cops specially the home Guards. Do they have authority to do so? Why do cops stop the vehicles on sharp turns and junctions is this proper.
Calangute has been a cesspool of such tensions in the recent past and following instructions given by the Calangute MLA and Ports Minister, Michael Lobo to act against those involved in illegal rent-a-vehicle business, policemen attached to a special squad and traffic cell were on their toes issuing challans against vehicles rented out to the tourists in Calangute. Every holiday season witnesses a rush to these places by domestic tourists. Some tourists posted on Facebook “we were not aware of the rules and regulations. We hired the vehicles. Why should we be taken to task?” Faur point but is anyone listening?
“Are the tourists to be blamed? The authorities and the operators should sort out their differences. I have come to Goa for the first time. And, my experience has been bad. My holidays have been ruined,” said Sarfraz Shamsi from Agra.
The traffic cell revealed that once a vehicle is booked, owner comes to the police station and he is produced before the JMFC court where a fine of Rs 2000 is imposed. This drive against illegal rent-a-car business went on for many days
Attempts to speak to Jaspal Singh IG police proved futile as calls went unanswered. However other long-time operators in the business had much to say. Savio Messias President TTAG said “ When we presented the white paper on tourism we had said cars from outside could be targeted at least three to four times a day by police all over the place. He added, “We had expressed our fears and it is happening. Now with fines having increased, the bribes have increased. There is no denying it. Outside registered cars cannot be targeted in this manner. We may not be able to eradicate it but we should control it. Stronger laws to curb corruption in the police is not the answer because everything is there, it just needs to be implemented”.
Ralph D Souza ex TTAG head however was very enthusiastic about bringing back the old system of chits which was in place twenty to twenty-five years ago whereby cars would be checked at the border and a white chit would be taped on the front mirror to highlight it was checked. At times a dot mark would be left in the front lights to indicate it was checked. It was a system that worked very well but then fell away. The suggestion by the CM had to be taken up he felt because that was the only way this problem could be tackled.