Govt mulls financial assistance to new taxi operators

Govt mulls financial assistance to new taxi operators. Amidst a tussle between traditional tourist taxi operators and app-based service providers in Goa, the state government Wednesday announced a scheme which proposes to provide a financial assistance to the locals for buying vehicles for operating a taxi service.

Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) chairman Dayanand Sopte told reporters the financial scheme was aimed at providing employment to the Goans who can now buy vehicles with the government assistance.

He said the vehicle purchased could be converted into taxis.

Traditional taxi operators in Goa, which attracts lakhs of domestic and foreign tourists throughout the year, have been opposing ‘Goa Miles’, the app-based taxi service introduced by the GTDC in August last year.

Amidst protests, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had asked the tourist taxi operators to join the app-based service on a trial basis for a month before forming their opinion about it.

Sopte said the app-based taxi service is an accepted norm across the world and in rest of the country.

“Even those Goans who go to other cities use the app-based taxi service and they are happy about it,” he said, adding that such taxi service is beneficial for development of tourism in the coastal state.

Sopte claimed that the service has been gaining popularity since its introduction.

“We started with 55 taxis and now the number has reached 1500. All taxi operators in this service are Goans. In the first month (of launch), it was just 1400 trips but the number reached to 14,000 in December. It has touched 20,000 trips in June,” he said.

CM may induct Lobo in Cabinet

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has hinted that there could be a cabinet reshuffle to induct state Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo.

Sawant on Tuesday night said Lobo, a two-term BJP MLA from Calangute Assembly seat in North Goa district, would be given a “bigger responsibility” in the state soon.

He was speaking at Lobo’s birthday celebration at Parra village in Mapusa town of North Goa.

“Lobo has to handle a bigger responsibility than what he has now. He will get it soon. He has to serve the people of entire Goa and not just from his Assembly constituency,” Sawant said amid applause from the MLA’s supporters.

Lobo has been demanding a cabinet berth since long.

“He will get the responsibility soon. He has kept patience all this while and he needs to keep it for a little more time,” the chief minister said.

Lobo earlier said he was not keen to become the Assembly Speaker after Sawant resigned from the post to take over as the chief minister in March this year.

Sawant got the top post in the state following the death of then chief minister Manohar Parrikar.

The Goa Legislative Assembly consists of 40 members.

The state cabinet currently has 12 ministers, the maximum number permitted under laws, including seven from the BJP, three from the alliance partner Goa Forward Party and two Independents supporting the Sawant-led government.

Sawant will have to drop one of the ministers from his cabinet to accommodate Lobo.

Suraj Nandrekar

Sr Assistant Editor (Reporting),
OHeraldO

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