Serve ultimatum to paralyse Panjim if KTC starts taxi services and operates buses from Dabolim; Deputy Speaker Lobo virtually leads the lobby and backs its demand
PANJIM: You give them an inch they threaten to take a yard and much more. After managing to hold the government in its tracks and slow down the speed of the decision to get the taxi owners to install speed governors, all layers are finally off. In a clear, almost threatening message to the government the taxi lobby has made it clear that it will brook no competition to their trade from anyone or from any form of transport. And their monopoly and hegemony must remain or else...
The All Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association (AGTTOA) has this time threatened to paralyse the State capital if the government goes ahead with the proposed Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited’s (KTC) taxi service and operates buses from Dabolim airport.
Deputy Speaker and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, in a stern tone said there is no need of KTC taxis. “Don’t eat taxi operators business,” he categorically said, expressing his strong opposition to his own government’s plans.
AGTTOA general secretary Vinayak Nanoskar, speaking to Herald, said that all the taxi operators are against the government move to introduce KTC taxis and operate buses from the airport. “This time we will not keep quiet, KTC is already in losses, why are they spending people’s money on tourists? Let tourists who come to Goa spend,” he said.
He added, “This time it will be tough if the government tries to kill our traditional business. We will not sit at Azad Maidan but we will paralyse entire Panjim.”
Taxi operators will submit a representation on this once the government decides or announces its firm stand. Nanoskar said that an oral objection has already been conveyed to the government through the Transport Director.
Lobo said the government needs to understand the issue of the taxi operators and resolve it instead of worsening it. “No need of getting buses and KTC taxis. Do not eat the business of the taxi operators. This is the only business which we Goans are into,” he said.
He further said that with the implementation of app-based taxis, digital fare meters and GPS in the taxi industry will resolve all the issues of taxi operators. “Everything will fall in place I feel,” he said.
Reacting to Lobo’s threat, the State’s tourism body has said that the MLA does not seem to understand the industry’s other side. Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) president Savio Messias said that “For the past 25 years, the tourism has faced problems due to the taxi operators and it is now getting out of hand. Michael Lobo should realise that he is also a hotelier. He doesn’t seem to understand the other side of the story of the industry”. He said that the taxis at the airport are not sufficient to cater to the tourists arriving in the State. TTAG will be meeting on February 1 to chalk out its further course of action to improve the industry in the State and tackle issue of taxi operators.
TTAG which is the most significant association representing Goa’s tourism interests has undoubtedly been scathed and scarred. One of the biggest impediments to Goa getting a better rating among tourists - the taxi lobby, continues to resist all forms of reform, which ironically have been planned keeping them in mind.