Goa tourist taxi, auto strike extended till Wednesday

Panaji, April 11 (IANS) Taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers in Goa on Monday extended their strike by two more days, as thousands of tourists and locals were stranded at airports, railway stations and major bus stations across the state.

Vinayak Nanoskar of the North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association told IANS that in view of the Goa government not heeding to their demand for scrapping of self-driven cars and bikes, the strike would continue until Wednesday.

“We are extending the strike by two more days. No one from the government met us today (Monday). Our demands stand unresolved. Unless they agree to our demands, the main one being scrapping of licences for self-driven cars and bikes, we will not withdraw the strike,” Nanoskar said.

Around 15,000 tourist taxis and auto-rickshaws in the state stayed off roads on Monday, causing hardship to tourists as well as locals.

“We have been waiting at the airport for four hours for some sort of transport,” said 35-year-old Akash Banerjee, who landed in Goa on Monday afternoon from Mumbai for a short holiday.

Commuters and tourists were also stranded at major bus stations as well as railway stations, and most people had to board public transport buses which were already crammed to capacity.

The invocation of the Essential Services Management Act did not appear to deter the striking taxi drivers, who also organised a public meeting in Panaji, where they resolved to extend their strike by two more days.

Meanwhile, the Goa Tourism Development Corporation in coordination with the state government-run public bus transportation service, the Kadamba Transport Corporation, pressed into service 45 buses between major railway stations and the airport, to ensure that tourists are ferried to and from the entry points and their hotels.

“I hail the KTCL for starting the long required coach service at the airport. Tourist taxi operators are tourism ambassadors and should not resort to such adverse measures that send out a wrong signal to the world and prospective tourists planning holidays to Goa,” corporation chairperson Nilesh Cabral told reporters here.

“Whatever grievances raised by the taxi operators will have to be looked into and the government could consider coming out with a policy with regards to taxi meters and vehicle rental business which they claim is affecting them,” Cabral said.

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