VASCO: Tension prevailed at the Dabolim international airport on Monday evening after around 350 yellow and black taxi operators affiliated to the United Taximen Union (UTU) protested against the launch of ‘GOAMILES,’ Goa’s first app-based taxi service.
In a late evening development, two taxi operator groups clashed at the airport. The clash involved members of the UTU and some other operators. The Dabolim airport police intervened and brought the situation under control. Police are likely to register cross complaints with regard to the clash.
The taxi operators affiliated to UTU staged a protest at the airport raising objection to the possible booking of taxis at the help desk (counter) at the airport with the issue of slips to passengers under the app-based service. The members of UTU held a sit-in protest near the app-based taxis parked close to the arrival terminal drawing attention of hundreds of tourists, who had arrived at the airport by different flights.
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vasco, Sunita Sawant, Vasco police inspector Nolasco Raposo, Verna police inspector Neenad Deulkar and other police personnel made several attempts to convince the agitated taxi operators to disperse, as they were hindering the movement of passengers and vehicles. However, the protestors failed to listen to the cops. Executive magistrate, Mormugao, Shripad Majjik and talathi Amresh Naik were also present at the site, as there was a possibility of a law and order situation.
The UTU members have decided to continue with their protest until the GTDC and the state government stop the functioning of the app-based counter.
The airport turned into a fortress with a large number of police personnel including armed police deployed in and around the vicinity of ‘GOAMILES’ app-based taxi counter. The UTU members were also agitated over parking space provided to the taxi operators operating with GOAMILES. The UTU members complained that they have been constantly demanding with the government and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) that they be provided parking space at the airport. However, till date their demand has not been fulfilled. “How come the newly launched app-based taxi service gets immediate facility of parking at the Dabolim airport,” questioned members of the UTU.
Speaking to this daily, UTU president Sanjay Naik said that there was no need of opening any counter at the airport, as the app-based taxis can be booked from anywhere and any part of the state after downloading the app. He said that the tourists visiting Goa are well educated and know how to book taxis of their choice through cell phones. He feared that the passengers arriving at the airport will be provided with slips in order to book the app-based taxis from the app-based help desk counter and this, he said, could result in no business for the yellow and black taxis. He alleged that the GTDC is trying to shut down the yellow and black taxis.
The taxi operators alleged that the visit of District Collector, South, Dr Tariq Thomas to the Dabolim airport was pre-planned in order to provide parking space for the app-based taxis.