Goa taxi drivers stoned tourist vehicles, operators allegeNovember 28th, 2008 - 10:05 pm ICT by IANS
Panaji, Nov 28 (IANS) Taxi drivers in Goa, fearing competition, threw stones on travel operator-run tourist vehicles carrying domestic and foreign tourists Friday, a travel body said.Dozens of Russians, British and Indian tourists including women had to face the ire of taxi drivers, who were protesting the movement of tourist coaches and other vehicles in their areas, it said.
Nearly a dozen cases of arson and criminal intimidation were reported by tour operators all over the state, Ralph de Souza, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), told reporters here.
“Complaints made to the police have led to no respite. Does the government really mean it when they say that Goa is safe for tourists?” he asked.
De Souza said the taxi operators’ demand that buses run by tour operators should not be allowed to ply in “their areas” was not fair. “The client has every right to choose the mode of transport.”
Charles D’Silva, who runs Goa Green Tours and Travels, said: “There was absolutely no security for our tourists. The government is doing nothing but giving false assurances. Considering what happened in Mumbai (the terrorist strike), security around five-star hotels should have been given priority.”
He said more than half a dozen taxi operators blocked his tourist coach near the Radisson hotel in south Goa.
“The foreign tourists who were already shocked by what they had seen on TV (coverage of the terrorist attack) thought this was a terrorist strike too and jumped out of the bus. Some of them were injured,” he said.
Ralph De Souza told IANS: “We are already reeling under the effect of the Mumbai terrorist strike. Such lawlessness will further cut down the number of tourists coming to Goa.”
Lyndon Monteiro, vice chairman of the state-run Goa Tourism Development Corp, admitted the lapses by the police and promised to take up the matter with the home minister.
“We have brought the matter to the chief minister’s notice. The police department needs to get tough in this matter,” he said.
Taxi drivers and tour and travel operators in Goa have been fighting over the issue of their “jurisdiction” since 1993. The problem was initially limited to south Goa, but there have been reports of recent violent face-offs between the two in north Goa too.