PACHU MENON, MARGAO
NO matter how well the promos by various tourism agencies showcase Goa as a wonderful haven for holidaymakers to this lovely paradise, the state government renowned for its perennial indolence has been putting up a pathetic display of its remarkable administrative skills to ensure that the ‘esteemed’ guests carry a very unpleasant picture of Goa back home. Unlike some of the other states, ferrying passengers to-and-from railway stations has never been considered a public service here in Goa. Hence quite many travellers have to depend on other modes of public transport. The presence of a pre-paid taxi service at the Dabolim airport and so also at the Thivim and Margao railway stations have thus proved very beneficial for the travelling public to reach their destinations after alighting here. Or so it seemed! By virtue of being a busy junction on the Konkan railway route, the Margao station boasts of quite an appreciable crowd of commuters boarding and getting down from trains here at any time of the day or night. With the pre-paid taxi counter situated in the close proximity of the station catering to the clientele, one would have thought they were doing a yeoman service to the travelling public. But a ‘close encounter’ with employees of the union operating the pre-paid taxi counter in a night brought forth a stark reality to light. The association managing the pre-paid taxi booth essentially catered to passengers who wanted to travel long distances. Those wishing to hire cabs for short distances were brusquely asked to step aside citing reasons of unavailability of taxis. Even if there are any on hand, the drivers refuse to take such passengers. These unions have been famous for locking horns with the government now and then over issues that have been counterproductive to their organizations. Yet, they have no regrets over putting the public to inconvenience by their insolent behaviours. Moreover, the absence of any police personnel to redress the grievances of such commuters was more than obvious.