Even after two years of being commissioned, the cruise terminal at Mormugao port lacks a counter for prepaid taxis and autos. This means that cruise passengers wishing to get a glimpse of Goa have no choice but to bargain over the taxi fare when tourist taxi operators reveal their ridiculously high rates for few hours of sightseeing.
Hiring a taxi from the cruise terminal for a trip to Panaji, Old Goa and any beaches, to be covered within four-five hours, means shelling out nothing less than Rs 3,000.
Seven-eight cars, along with coaches, are permitted within the cruise terminal, to be parked closer to the cruise liner, as was witnessed by Team TOI, when the liner MV Costa Classica sailed into port on Thursday.
The coaches are there to pick passengers who have pre-booked their tour through an agent while the cars belong to tourist taxi operators, and are permitted within the premises to shuttle passengers wanting to explore the place on their own.
Interestingly, the distance between the parked cars and the terminal gate is hardly 50m.
The tourist taxi operators haggle with the passengers when the latter complain about the high fares. “Life is expensive here, boss,” the taxi operator doesn’t hesitate to tell passengers.
Whether it is Panaji, Old Goa, beaches or anywhere else, the taxi fare ranges between Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000.
If it is a group of seven-eight wanting to do sightsee together, then they are charged Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,300 per head, possibly even more.
With the cruise liner scheduled to leave in the evening, most passengers are eager to return on time.
Even if bargaining brings the fare down by a few dollars, the rate arrived at is on the higher side, nevertheless.
A tourism stakeholder said that every time a cruise liner arrives, the scene they witness is the same. “Some taxi operators even insist that they be paid in foreign currency,” one stakeholder said, without wanting to be named.
Complaints are routinely received from passengers.
President, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), Savio Messias said, “It’s been a while we have been requesting authorities to set-up a prepaid taxi counter at the terminal. We have received complaints from our members, who handle cruise passengers, about overcharging by tourist taxi operators.”
The last meeting with chairman, MPT, I Jeyakumar was fruitful. “The MPT chairman has assured to resolve the issue,” said Messias.
Traffic manager, MPT, Vipin Menoth when contacted said he was not authorized to speak, but insisted that a prepaid taxi counter is operative at the terminal.
Vice-president, South Goa Tourist Taxi Association, Jose Afonso said the MPT taxi operators are not members of their association, as also the Dabolim airport taxi operators, who have an association of their own. “I don’t know anything about them,” said one airport taxi operator.