The earlier announcement of Goa’s taxi operators going on strike came into effect today. As expected, the taxi strike has created chaos and havoc in the state. Tourists in the state have been left stranded.
Taxi strike happens inspite of the government prohibiting it
Even though the government invoked the Essential Services Management Act (ESMA) on Thursday, prohibiting the strike, the taxi operators still chose to keep their vehicles off the road today.
The taxi strike has seen all of Goa’s taxis keep off the roads and has resulted in hundreds of tourists being left stranded at hotels, railway stations and even the airport. Even a fleet of 350-odd yellow and black prepaid taxis ended up joining the strike despite having been seen ferrying passengers earlier today. These are the taxis that usually operate only to and from the airport.
Azad Maidan, the site of protest for this taxi strike
Hundreds of taxi drivers showed up at Azad Maidan in a show of support and solidarity.
“We will not tolerate the harassment which is being meted out to us by the state government. We are against the installation of speed governors in our vehicles. When other states have not installed it as yet, why should we be forced to do so?” asked North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners’ Association President Laxman Korgaonkar.
In an attempt to make sure that the taxi strike hasn’t caused any inconvenience to tourists, the state government has pressed into service, private vehicles and buses to ferry passengers to and from their destinations. Hotels have even asked staff to allow them to utilise their vehicles in case there is trouble on the streets as these private cars are allowed to move freely.
No violence has been reported so far, with the protests being peaceful. At this moment, they are claiming the government is not addressing their ‘grievances’. These include complaints about the illegal taxis operating in the state as well as being against the implementation of speed governors in their vehicles. According to sources, these taxi operators say that the state Transport Department is harassing them to put in these speed governors.
However, the government has said that this strike is illegal. “The government has supported tourist taxi operators fully over the last few years, but they are still going on strike without giving notice to the government. Therefore, we are considering the strike as illegal,” Transport Minister Sudin Dhavalikar told reporters.