What is the preferred mode of public transport for a Goan? What do people use to get to any government office, court, doctor or fish market? A motorcycle pilot!
Painted black and yellow like auto-rickshaws or taxis, these two-wheeler motorcycle pilots are found waiting for passengers in almost all towns, cities and even villages, along 1200 km of major and minor arteries of Goa.
Patrao! Pilot zai?
The unique system of motorcycle pilots started during the Portuguese rule in Goa. It was later recognized by the Indian government and the Motor Vehicle Act in 1979.
Today, it’s a well-regulated business carried out under the watchful eye of the State as well as a code of conduct willingly formulated by the Pilot’s Association.
Motorcycle pilots are more than just service providers
Struggling with a handful of papers and files or carrying luggage? Need to rush to work or have an urgent appointment in court, a government office or an interview? Late for school or college? Motorcycle pilots swoop in to rescue you from distress.
They ferry the day’s newspapers to the remotest village before you wake up. Take you to visit relatives untraceable on Google maps. Hired to drop tiny kids to Kindergarten, young girls and married women rely on them to reach their destinations safely.
Well-behaved and organised
You would not come across any eve-teasers, street fighters, hirelings or drunkards among pilots as they go strictly either by self-discipline or their own code of conduct. They even censure or reprimand each other for any misbehaviour.
A motorcycle pilot is also considered ‘a trusted neighbour, guide, helper in good times or bad and a trustworthy friend’.
Shining light for ‘Road Safety’
Staying far away from all forms of rash riding even if their clients coax them to. There are a negligible amount of rash riding incidents involving motorcycle pilots in Goa.
Goa has the worst record of road accidents. But considering their numbers on Goan roads and the mileage they cover in a year crisscrossing any type of terrain, it is worth making a note of the safety rules observed in this community.
It’s not all smooth sailing for motorcycle pilots, though, as their job has numerous hardships.
Motorcycle pilots have to wait for hours for their daily business and fight the rigours of the seasons. They do not have a shady place or shed to escape from the fierce downpour of rain or the scorching sun. Yet they always greet their passengers with a smile. Unfortunately, during the monsoons, their business gets partially affected, stealing close to four months of income.
In recent years, the State government realized their professional hardships and importance. Accordingly, the government has extended certain benefits like subsidies and pension to motorcycle pilots.