This is not a plain black and white issue. The media likes to paint the taxi drivers as villains. Not that all taxi drivers are innocent…however such a report is unfair as there are two sides to every story
Meanwhile, a friend called and asked me as a favour to visit a few boutique hotels she owned for my views, and said she would send me her ‘Private’ car to shuttle me around to all her hotels for a visit.
So the following morning, true to her word, her driver and car were at the hotel in Candolim at the designated time.
My wife, my cousin, who is an architect, and I walked out of the gate and boarded the car. As we were backing out, a bunch of taxi drivers who were lounging outside the gate walked up to the driver and asked him menacingly, “Do you not know you are not allowed to pick up people from here?”
I told the taxi man in question that it was my friend’s private car and that it had been sent to pick me up. He immediately responded with confidence, “I don’t care if it’s your brother’s car. You can’t use it. You have to take a taxi from us.”
By this time, my sense of justice and fair play was working up but because I didn’t want trouble for my friend. I said, “Alright. Next time we will take your car but this car is here. Let us go. There are ladies in the car and your behaviour is disturbing.” Then he got aggressive. He said, “Do what you can. Call the police. There is no way we are letting this car move.”
In order to avoid a full altercation I told the driver to go back and decided to walk some distance and then take another taxi as there was no way we were traveling with these goons. I assumed if my friend’s car did not pick anyone up, then no ‘crime’ had been committed and it could leave without any further drama.
We did just that and once I got to my friends hotel, I checked on the status of the car and the manager told me that it had been commandeered and taken to Goa Police for ‘breaking the law’. I was shocked. Shortly after that, I got a call from the local police control room confirming my name and number and asking me why I was creating trouble for the taxi people and what business I had in Goa. I explained to him that it was a personal vehicle belonging to my friend and asked which law prevented me from being driven in it. He side tracked and spoke about who I was and what I was doing there and hung up. If it were not for family with me, I would have gone to the station and tested their theory.
I forgot about the whole incident. Recently, I was in Goa again and met the same friend who told me that the car was with the cops in Panaji for two days and that she had to pay a fine to release it. This really rankled me. Now I feel it must go through the full test of the law. It is a huge danger to the tourism industry as a whole. Taxi unions have been progressively getting more aggressive and will soon hold the state and industry to ransom.
I hope the powers that be and the legal minded among us share your views on my position on this and what should be done about it. Goa’s government is busy expanding the bandwidth of air seats to Goa and new tourism oriented projects are coming up. Road infrastructure is catching up. This one cancer has the danger of disturbing the peace and ease of tourism here causing long term damage to the state.
I have been doing some research and the matter keeps popping up:
In the interest of Goa tourism, and brand India, and as a person with deep rooted emotional and career investment in hospitality and tourism, I plead with the government of Goa, the tourism department and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to pay attention to this before it becomes a real deal breaker for the state.