Strike by taxi unions in Goa has been called off after state’s Cheif Minister Pramod Sawant met representatives of unions and promised to resolve their demand.
The taxi unions were up in arms with the state government over the operations of the government-owned ride-hailing app GoaMiles.
Although private taxi owners have been demanding to scrap the GoaMiles app, their new demand was that the driver of GoaMiles cabs shouldn’t be allowed to pick up tourists from their hotels around beaches and the coastal belt.
Association of Tourist Taxi Owners of Goa and The South Goa Tourist Taxi Association announced that they would start plying taxi on the roads after they were assured by the Local MLA Churchill Alemao that the government would accept their demand.
But GoaMiles’ official twitter account released a statement denying any such claims and assured customers that it will operate throughout the coastal state and provide its services without any restrictions. CM Sawant was also tagged in the said tweet.
The state-run app was launched by Goa Tourism Development Corp after cries from locals and tourists that the private-run taxis were charging astronomically high fares and that they needed regulated services for transport problems as cab-hailing apps Ola and Uber were banned in the state back in 2014.
The taxi operators saw the applications as a threat to their monopoly and have been protesting with the government ever since.
GoaMiles’ operation manager Hemant Prabhu, while talking to media earlier this year said that the company would encourage competition in the market and let the technology-based apps like Ola and Uber to ply in the state in an initiative to serve the customers better.
CM Sawant had urged the operators of around 30,000 taxis to try the GoaMiles app for three months or come up with their own application with regulated fares and standard protocol of operations.
But the taxi unions stuck to their demands and called for a strike starting from August 2. Sensing the chaos, the government imposed the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) in the state on August 1, a day before the strike. Consequently, Goa police booked around 48 tourist taxi operators under the ESMA act and arrested them for taking part in the Mass Strike.
Speaking about the arrests, state health minister Vishwajit Rane stated that taxi unions have support from politicians of South Goa district and claimed that the taxi operators should join the government’s initiative to improve the tourism experience in the coastal state where tourists drive the economy.