PANAJI: Stating that they are facing difficulties in identifying authorised digital fare meter dealers, tourist taxi owner unions on Wednesday requested Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar during a meeting to revise the existing fare, which they feel is unfeasible to run the taxis on digital meters.
The taxi owner unions said that the Chief Minister has assured them to enhance the subsidy amount given to purchase meters and also provide proper infrastructure for maintenance of the fare meters in the state.
At present, a subsidy of 50 per cent on the cost or a maximum of Rs 5,000 is granted to taxi operators to purchase digital fare meters and fit them in their taxis.
The meeting was attended by Calangute MLA Micheal Lobo and Housing Minister Jayesh Salgaonkar along with South Goa Tourist Taxi Association and North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association members.
Speaking to this daily, vice president of North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association (NGTTOA) Ravindra Vengurlekar said that the Chief Minister has told them that taxis will have to compulsory fix digital meters and abide by the High Court direction. “But we have asked the Chief Minister for the fare revision which is necessary to meet the demand for taxi services and the strong population growth and an increase in the number of tourists,” he said.
“We will follow the High Court direction and fix meters provided we get proper infrastructure or service centres to install and repair the meters,” he added.
Discussions on irregularities and illegalities of two- and four- wheelers plying passengers were held at the meeting. Possibility of starting online taxis was also discussed. The Chief Minister asked the taxi unions to prepare a demand list and difficulties faced by them in delivering services and fixed a meeting next week.
The Chief Minister, before the meeting told ‘The Navhind Times’ that the rules under the Motor Vehicle Act already have a provision for installation of digital meters to taxis.
“And then what is the problem for the taxi owners to fit the digital meters to their taxis,” he questioned, stating that the digital meters have to be compulsorily installed by the taxi owners; the only question is who will bear the related cost (of the digital meters).
The state government has earlier amended the Goa Motor Vehicles Rules, 1991 and substituted a clause as regards ‘motor cabs to be fitted with fare meters’ in Rule 140 of the Goa Motor Vehicles Rules, 1991, thus making it compulsory for all cabs in the state to have the facility of fare meters with printer and Global Positioning System (GPS), but implementation remained a huge challenge.
The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has come to understand that even the court verdict on compulsory fixing of meters in taxis is only half the battle won.
Speaking to this daily, president of TTAG Savio Messais said, “For TTAG, the tourism industry and for the people, the battle is half won and the most important thing is fixing of rate.” He said the rate should be economical and lower than the government-fixed rate because the existing rate is too high and the taxi drivers themselves don’t ply on that rate. Hence, there is a need for revision of fares. He further asked the taxi operators to adopt technology, as people depend on app-based services.