Citizen step up fight for app-based taxi service in state

An mobile app where the taxi owners themselves would be the owners of it with all the necessary infrastructure and with all back end support provided was offered to the Taxi owners which some of the leaders of the North Goa Taxi drivers rejected. Why is the the question? who made them block this? was it because no palms were being greased and because no one would get a cut?
If the taxis don’t get their act together, they will loose to Uber and Ola

The irony of Goa’s tourism industry is that a ticket from Mumbai to Goa costs roughly the same as the taxi fare from the airport to the capital city, if not more. After an online petition last month urging the chief minister to introduce app-based taxi services in the state failed to evoke any response, the petitioners have now started a Facebook page to seek support and pressurise the government.

Mahesh Sardesai, an NRI of Goan origin, who had started the online petition and has now turned to Facebook, told TOI: “I had a bad experience as one taxi guy tried to dupe us. I don’t have any interest in these companies (Ola and Uber).”

After having gathered over 7,000 signatures in the online petition, the page—The Taxi Revolution In Goa—has got nearly 2,000 likes.

An amendment was brought in 2015 to the Goa Motor Vehicles Rules, 1991, making digital fare meters with printer and a global positioning system (GPS) tracking device mandatory. But despite the amendment, the government has not been able to enforce it on the taxi operators.

A few years ago when Ola attempted to launch its services in the state, taxi unions registered a strong objection by going on a two-day strike, arguing that their livelihoods would be affected if external players were permitted entry into the market. The government relented to the pressure and conceded to their demands.

“Fitment of meters and GPS is in abeyance. The matter is sub judice. We have to wait for the court order in order to decide the next course of action,” a transport official said.

“Tourism is the backbone of Goa’s economy and tourists across the world and India are used to services like Ola/Uber. It’s time to allow them to operate in Goa. Besides, Goan taxi drivers never use the taxi meters required by law and charge exorbitant fares for their services,” the appeal reads.

One post from Shrirang Marathe says: “In Pune, Ola/Uber costs Rs 210 to 300 to go to Pune station ie 19 km in traffic and in Goa a prepaid taxi from Margao to Ponda (15 kms) costs Rs 800. That too after petrol/diesel charges are less, what an irony. Understand there are lesser trips the taxi owners get but still it can’t be at 400% the rate. This is where they lose business to rent-a-bike owners.” (sic)

Says Lester Decruz: “Get Uber in Goa ASAP. Healthy competition, consumers benefits, positive media, more travelling in Goa, more revenue for the local government.”

But not many in and outside the state are aware that the state government has fixed taxi rates for self-employed tourist taxi operators attached to beach and starred hotels by way of a notification. The rate list covers 30-odd vehicles types and makes. As per the notification, rates are to be calculated as per the distance covered, amount of petrol or diesel consumed, which the government has fixed.

For instance, a Maruti Omni charges Rs 750 for four hours up to 50km and Rs 1,450 for eight hours up to 100km. Extra charges per km for exceeding limits is Rs 16.

The petition was submitted to the government by NGO Citizens for Change last week. “We have got over 7,200 signatures and submitted our petition to chief minister Manohar Parrikar with a copy to transport minister Ramkrishna Dhavalikar, tourism minister Manohar Azgaonkar, TCP minister Vijai Sardesai, Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, governor Mridula Sinha, secretary of transport and director of transport,” Sardesai said.

Another update on the Facebook page reads: “We have received 7,500 signatures so far and the debate is into its fourth week. Still waiting for response from the CM.” The post is accompanied with a video that explains the myths and truths about letting the taxi aggregators to operate in the state in a series of slides.

Sardesai, who has already received a threatening post on his Facebook page from the taxi drivers’ association, said he feels safer staying outside the state while campaigning for the cause.

Responding to Mahesh Sardesai’s petition, general secretary of North Goa Tourist Taxi owners association Vinayak Nanoskar openly threatened the petitioner in a Facebook post through his personal account.

 “Mahesh Sardesai, you do whatever you want, but don’t try to ruin us. One day, all Goa’s taxi owners will come to your home, if you have (one) because bhadwas don’t stay with family. So my request to all taxi owners, please search were he stays. Let (us) all we show him how big goondas we are.” (sic)
The post has received 48 shares and over 100 likes so far. While many condemned the language used in the post, a few came in support of this threat, thus starting a debate. Sardesai came forward as well, replying to some of the comments.

“I think Sardessai (is) getting some commission from Ola or Uber…” said a comment by Nilesh Chopdekar. To which Sardesi replied, “I have nothing to do with Ola or Uber. I think it’s my right to demand world class service in Goa so 90% of the people benefit…”