CALANGUTE: In a battle to protect their turf, the tourist taxi owners of Calangute on Tuesday took out a rally in the village asking non-Calangute re
sidents plying their tourist taxis in Calangute to vacate the village. The rally was termed “Mission Road Clear.”
Around 150 Calangute tourist taxi owners marched from St Anthony’s chapel in Gauravaddo to the football ground circle in Umtavaddo, asking “outside taxis” not to conduct business in Calangute as they “cause traffic problems for all and take away local taxi owners’ business”. There was a sizeable police presence and no untoward incident occurred.
“This is the off season but even today we found 70 taxis from outside Calangute,” Vasudev Arlekar, president of the Tourist Taxi Owners’ Association of Calangute told TOI. “While we queue outside fixed hotels, they park all along the roads causing traffic congestion and undercutting our business. We adhere to the pre-fixed rates displayed at the hotels. The first time, The outsiders charge less the first time to undercut us but subsequently fleece tourists.”
Arlekar said that over 75 tourist taxis from outside Calangute operate in Calangute eating away business from the locals and during season the number of taxis even rises to about 200. Taxis from outside Calangute have been running here for some years now, but till the time we were not affected we did not mind. Now we are feeling the pinch and if we do not stop them now, in 2009 their number will rise to 150 and in 2010, to 250, Arlekar said.
He said outside taxis come from neighbouring villages like Saligao, Siolim, Mapusa, Porvorim, Morjim, Mandrem, etc. “Tourist taxis from as far as Arambol, Bicholim and Quepem operate from Calangute. We asked a taxi owner from Porvorim if we could ply our taxis in Porvorim but he flatly refused. We are also not allowed to conduct business at the airport or at the railway station. Why then should we allow outsiders to conduct business in our village?” Arlekar asked.
The Calangute tourist taxi owners had written to the Calangute panchayat and the Calangute police on October 10 expressing “need of support to remove road side taxis which are not from Calangute village.” The Calangute Sarpanch Joseph Sequeira strongly endorsed the residents’ stand. Sequeira told TOI, “I have represented their demands to the traffic police, the Calangute police and the assistant director of transport asking them to remove all outside taxis from Calangute. We have to protect our boys.”
Sequeira who on Tuesday also launched a three-day demolition drive to remove illegal temporary stalls and encroachments on footpaths in Calangute said, “It seems taxis from the whole of Goa come to Calangute. Even taxis from Salcete operate from here. But I know instances where the Candolim sarpanch has driven out Calangute taxis from his village.”
Sequeira admitted these “outside taxis” possess all-Goa permits. “But there is a provision that they have to operate their taxis from their residences. They have agreed to do this on an affidavit. And we have written to the authorities informing them that taxis, motorcycles and rickshaws from outside Calangute are operating here without our panchayat’s approval and hence they should be removed,” he added. Arlekar said that the Calangute tourist taxi owners will conduct another “Mission Road Clear” to get rid of outside taxis from the Calangute Tintto-Baga stretch on October 18, 2008.