Panaji: Members of the All-Goa Taxi Union Association on Monday refuted chief minister Pramod Sawant’s charge that taxi operators do not use the meters in their vehicles. “It is a false allegation that we are not using the digital fare meters,” an operator said. “We are stationed at the airport, railway stations and bus stands. It is not possible to start the vehicle from these stops without the digital meter.” At Azad Maidan, Panaji, the All-Goa Taxi Union Association protested the state’s move to start app-based aggregator services like Ola and Uber in Goa on Monday. TOI had reported on July 14 that Sawant, speaking in the House, said that taxi operators installed the meters but “cover it with a towel”. “They do not use them,” he had said. Another operator, however, justified the action. “There are several tourists who come from big cities, who insist that they will pay a lump sum instead of paying by the meter. For our livelihood, we have no choice but to comply with such customers,” he said. The cabbies took objection to the chief minister’s claim that they loot people. “We request the chief minister to check our bank balance and compare the same with the bank balance of the ministers in his cabinet, and then conclude who has really looted the public,” he said. Operators also claimed that although GoaMiles is an app-based service, there was no positive outcome from its operations. They demanded that the government take them into confidence and work things out instead of inviting app-based cab aggregator services to Goa. They said the taxi operators in Goa are struggling for survival, and need the government’s cooperation to take Swayampurna Goem forward. A taxi operator said the government must end discrimination against them as some taxi operators in the constituency of the transport minister have not affixed meters and are still operating from Dabolim.
Calangute: Former minister and Congress candidate Michael Lobo on Sunday questioned why transport minister Mauvin Godinho is silent about hiring outstation taxis with no fare-meter by the Election Commission (EC) in Goa. “Despite being transport minister Godinho has not said a word about outside taxis which have been brought by the Election Commission into Goa. How can the EC bring taxis without meters? The rule is that only taxis with meters can operate in Goa,” he said. He alleged that there is a scam in fitting digital taxi meters on cabs in Goa. “The taxi meters which have been fixed are a big scam by Godinho. Meters costing Rs4,990 have been given to taxi owners for Rs11,300. To clean this scam it is necessary to vote him out,” Lobo told reporters on Sunday.