Goa’s tourist taxi operators on Sunday withdrew their strike following a written assurance that pending fitness certificates would be issued to all tourist taxis by January 24 and the government would stop installation of speed governors on their vehicles.
The three-day strike, which caused immense hardship to tourists and locals, was called off soon after representatives of the taxi operators met Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, along with Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo, at the Chief Minister’s official residence here.
“We are only withdrawing the strike after a written assurance by Lobo, that he would resign from the BJP if the promise to provide fitness certificates to all taxi operators, without fitting of speed governors by January 24.
We still do not believe the Chief Minister, but we are giving the government an opportunity to right the wrong,” Laxman Korgaonkar, spokesperson for the North Goa Tourist Taxi Association, told reporters here.
The strike had started on Friday, in order to protest against mandatory fitting of speed governors and alleged harassment by police and transport officials, he added.
Lobo told reporters that as far as installation of speed governors is concerned, the state government would file an intervention petition in the Supreme Court, seeking relief for the taxi drivers in Goa, where speeding is not “possible” since it is a “small state and has narrow roads”.
The Supreme Court order on speed governors on tourist taxis came last year, following a petition by Delhi-based NGO Suraksha Foundation. The state Transport Department had refused to provide fitness certificates to taxis, without speed governors fitted to them.
Parrikar also told reporters that the state government was also of the opinion that fitting of speed governors to tourist taxis was not feasible and that the same would be presented before the apex court.
“We do not have an issue with presenting this view before the Supreme Court… We are not ourselves convinced that 80 km per hour speed limit will change anything on ground. It actually should be 100 km,” he said, adding that taxis were not majorly involved in accidents in the state.
He also said, that the state government would exercise a provision in the newly amended Motor Vehicles Act, to allow taxi drivers more time to fit speed governors to their vehicles.
Earlier, Congress President Shantaram Naik met Parrikar and sought his intervention to end the strike.
On Saturday, Transport Minister Sudin Dhavalikar had warned taxi drivers to call off their strike, failing which he said app-based taxi operators would be requested to start their services in the coastal state which attracts more than six million tourists every year.