After going on strike on Friday, the union declared the strike indefinite, by Saturday. The taxi drivers have only one demand, says the spokesperson and president of ATTOG, Chetan Kamat, “Scarp the government-backed GoaMiles.” GoaMiles is an aggregator application for cab services in Goa, similar to Ola or Uber apps. It is run by Frotamiles Private Limited and was launched by the Goa Tourism Department. Currently, this app designed by a Pune based company, Pitasys Software Pvt. Ltd., is the only app functional in Goa. As per guidelines formulated by the state transport authority, the app is allowed to aggregate taxis in the category of ‘All Goa Tourist’ (AGT), Rent-a-Cab, Rent-a-Bike, yellow-black motorcycles, yellow-black taxis and All-India Tourist Permit (AITP) taxis.
The Goa taxi union had earlier blocked the entry of Ola and Uber into the state on account of potential loss of jobs to drivers from neighboring states. The union states that GoaMiles started functioning without taking the 30,000 taxi drivers of the state into confidence. Also, the opposition has raised a point in the past about the government using PPP model to avoid tender stage. Thereby, removing the chance of any competitive players.
The taxi business in Goa is highly unregulated and with the app, fixed fares will have to be followed, due to which the taxi drivers will lose control. The union is worried that the app will open the floodgates for ‘outsiders’ and put Goans out of business. As tourism is a major industry in Goa, most Goans depend on it for their daily bread and butter. They have indicated chances of agreement to fixing fare meters in cabs once GoaMiles is no longer in the picture. Also, they demand that if GPS-enabled digital meters are made mandatory, the government must pay 80 per cent of the setup cost. Despite several deadlines, the unions have never installed meters, though they never explicitly refuse either.
In the middle of all this commotion, tourists have been stranded. Hotels have arranged private cab services to receive their guests. Other tourists have had to share transport. Goans have created a carpool group on Instagram, FaceBook and WhatsApp, called ‘Share Your Ride Goa.’
Some of the travel tips you can follow for a seamless trip amidst this disturbance -
- GoaMiles is still currently functioning. Download the app or contact 9607178989 / 8888800405 helpline numbers.
- Helpline is also available at Collectorate South and North Goa - The helpline numbers are 1077/North Goa 0832-2225383/South Goa 0832-2794100/1077/ 0832 2225383
- The State Transport Corporation, Kadamba, is making use of new routes to decrease travel time and increase the number of travel trips to and fro the airport.
- Leave early for the airport/bus stand/railway station to ensure you make it on time for your bookings.
- Kindly assist others travellers in need - share taxis with them or help them get to the helpline desks or numbers.