A rather fervid online petition by a Goan citizen on Change.org has gained stupendous traction since it was uploaded two days ago. This is presumably because it has hit a raw nerve for many Goans and die-hard fans of the tropical paradise–for it is a plea to allow taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber to operate in Goa.
Addressing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, the petitioner, an NRI of Goan origin Mahesh Sardesai, is seeking the entry of Ola and Uber cab services in Goa. The petition has already garnered almost 5,800 signatures. So far, the existing taxi unions, also colloquially referred to as the taxi mafia, had raised hell when nation and worldwide taxi operators like Ola and Uber tried to set up operations in the state. Back in February 2014, when Ola planned to launch in Goa, the taxi unions went on strike for two days, bringing the tourist destination to a standstill, in order to pressurise the government to curb the cab aggregator's activities.
Goa's 7,000 tourist taxis succeeded in having the government concede to these demands. They argued that their livelihoods would be adversely affected if external players were allowed to enter the market. Goa's taxi system is not standardised–they charge amounts right off the bat and normally succeed in extorting these prices out of tourists who do not have any options. The government had even tried to implement a meter system but could not execute it.
There have also been incidents wherein the taxi unions attacked tourist buses carrying foreign tourists, as a way to air their disapproval of tour operators stealing their business.
After a series of such events, Mahesh Sardesai posted the following petition:
Tourism is the backbone of Goa's economy and tourists across the world & 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. Here are benefits:
We request that our elected representatives provide improved alternative which encourages innovation and competition instead of our broken taxi system and not to give in to the voice of Taxi drivers looting Tourists and Goans. At least allow online taxi due to LACK of proper public transport system.
Please sign this petition so our honorable CM can look into the matter.”
The petition has struck a chord with various sections of the state–not only locals like students and daily commuters, but also tourists who frequent the state and have left feeling fleeced by taxi drivers.