Goa invokes ESMA ahead of taxi, auto strike on Monday

Panaji, April 10 (IANS) The Goa government on Sunday invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act, a day ahead of a proposed strike by tourist taxi operators and auto-rickshaws in the state.

A government spokesperson on Sunday said invocation of ESMA rendered illegal the strike by over 15,000 tourist taxi and auto-rickshaw operators.

“The government of Goa has declared the tourist taxi and auto-rickshaw services operating in Goa as essential services under the ESMA Act,” he said.

The tourist taxis and auto-rickshaws have threatened to go off the roads on Monday alleging failure of the state government to regulate the practice of renting out self-driven bikes and cars which the striking transporters claim was affecting their business.

Goa attracts nearly four million tourists every year. The state has a poor public transport mechanism which makes taxis an essential means of transport.

Vinayak Nanoskar, general secretary of the North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners’ Association, earlier on Sunday told IANS that there would be no tourist taxis available anywhere in Goa on Monday.

“It is a token one-day strike for now. We have been asking the state government to regulate rent-a-bike and rent-a-car services, because it is eating into our business. To add to that the number of tourists coming to Goa has come down,” Nanoskar said.

“We are not getting enough business,” he said, while threatening to go on an indefinite strike if the government did not put a ceiling on the number of cars and bikes being hired out, essentially to tourists, for self-driving.

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