Tourist taxibusiness is being a major source of livelihood for many people residing in the state’s coastal belt, legislators from these areas often find themselves defending the rights of cab operators by default, even as they admit that taxi operations in Goa are in a messy state. They are also of the opinion that the government, and not the cab operators are the ones to be blamed for the situation.
Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, who has been the most vehement supporter of taxi operators in the Calangute-Candolim beach belt and their demands, feels there is perception that tourist taxi operators harass or fleece those visiting the state, despite the true picture being altogether different.
“There is a need to put the taxi issue in place. Every tourist visiting the state thinks he or she has been cheated by taxi operators as cabs in Goa have no digital meter installed. But those who visit the state regularly know the exact taxi fare,” said Lobo, defending the existing taxi rates that tourists often label exorbitant.
“Foreigners are being overcharged by coach operators attached to hotels,” he said. “According to me, if there are around 100 tourists, they can hire two buses. But if there are only eight tourists, they should avail of the services of tourist taxis,” he added.
Many tourists have alleged over the years that taxi operators prevented vehicles belonging to their friends and relatives from entering resorts they were staying at, to pick them up. But Lobo defends the taxi operators saying, “The taxi drivers stop vehicles only when they suspect a private vehicle has been given on rent. They know who provide private vehicles on rent. It is not a case of friends lending vehicles,” he said.
“There are around 750 youth operating rent-a-cab businesses. The government should issue permits for 1,000 rent-a-cab operations. Also, out of the 3,500 taxis plying in Goa, around 500 taxis be allowed to convert to rent-a-cab systems if they wish,” he said.