CALANGUTE/COLVA: The usual hustle and bustle of taxis moving around transporting tourists in the Calangute-Candolim tourism hub was missing on Thursday because of the strike call given by the Goa Taxi Drivers Association and many taxi drivers joining the ‘dharna’ at Panaji. However, many taxis were also seen operating. Even in South Goa’s coastal belt, taxis were seen plying.
The strike had very little impact on the movement of tourists with resorts arranging buses and other vehicles to transport tourists to and from the airport and railway stations. Tourists were also seen moving around with rental bikes and cars.
North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association vice-president Ravindra Vengurlekar said that they are not supporting the strike because of differences of opinion with leaders of other unions. “They don’t understand us, and we don’t understand them. Now there’s an election coming so the opposition will support them,” he told TOI referring to the presence of some politicians at the protest site in Panaji.
Vengurlekar said many taxis were plying in Calangute-Candolim in the morning, but stopped later to avoid trouble. “Taxi owners were afraid to take the risk,” he said.
A taxi driver from Calangute, Dashrath Govekar, who participated in the protest, said the strike would continue till GoaMiles is scrapped. “The government brought GoaMiles to fill their pockets. To fool us they’re just blaming each other for GoaMiles. Our MLA Michael Lobo had given us a promise that he would be with us against GoaMiles, but he has now done a U-turn because he’s been made a minister,” he alleged.
A taxi operator in Salcete said they have suffered financially for the last one year due to the lockdown and now to sacrifice whatever business they get is not feasible. ‘We have a queue system, those who were likely to get business stayed at work and others who lower down the order must have taken part in the protest in Panaji,” he said.
A former executive member of South Goa Tourist Taxi Association said it is the right time to hold protests instead of sitting at home as there are no foreign tourists in the state. While admitting that some of their members have not joined the strike, he said that earning some money is preferred during these trying times.
Another operator said that rent-a-car/bike business has also spread its tentacles and hit their business. He said that domestic tourists book these self-drive vehicles .