Yet, co-operation not forthcoming; TTAG says taxi operators are over pampered but not against subsidies to locals
PANJIM: Despite having pampered taxi operators with subsidies in the past, the government finds it difficult to implement certain rules of the Central Motor Vehicle Act and various directives of the Supreme Court to streamline the taxi service in the State.
The government has already spent Rs 30 crore on subsidies for taxi operators. Presenting the 2017-18 Budget, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar spoke of self-employed taxi owners facing difficulties in insurance payments and made arrangements to compensate taxi operators by providing assistance in paying insurance premiums.
The government has in the past fallen prey to pressure techniques of the taxi lobby in the State, and taxi operators have again threatened to paralyse the State, including the capital city Panjim, if the government commences bus services from Dabolim airport and app-based taxi service of KTCL.
The Transport Minister submitted that the government has already granted taxi operators benefits amounting to Rs 30 crore under the Goa State Subsidy for yellow/black motorcycles, yellow/black autorickshaws, yellow/black taxis and tourist (signal taxi owners before September,2013) Scheme.
The data reveals that in 2013-14 the department had released Rs 5 crore, 2014-15 it had released Rs 6 crore, in 2015-16 it released Rs 6 crore, and 2016-17 it released Rs 10 crore, while from 2017 till date Rs 3 crore has been released as relief to taxi operators.
The government has been negotiating with taxi operators to install digital fare meters and GPS system and speed governors to limit the speed of taxis. However, the government has failed to take action on erring taxi operators under the threat of large and massive protests which affect tourism.
Under the pressure of the taxi lobby the government has in the past also banned online cab services that operate successfully in other States.
The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa had approached the court in regard to the taxi business stating that uncontrolled taxi fares charged by operators are affecting the industry.
TTAG president Savio Messias said that taxi operators are over pampered by the government because of the interests of a few MLAs. He said the tourism body doesn’t mind the subsidies to the local self driven taxi owners, but objected on subsidies to outsider taxi operators who have a fleet of taxis.
“We don’t mind giving subsidies to the local taxi operators, but why for the people from outside who are operating fleet of taxis? These people don’t deserve subsidy. We have heard that businessman, politicians, people overseas own fleets of taxi in Goa”, he said.
But Calangute MLA and Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo feels that people’s money is given back to the people. “Subsidies are given by the government on the purchase of the new vehicles as per the unemployment scheme. The people who have obtained subsidies cannot avail government jobs,” he said.