(G.N.S) Dt. 20
Protesting tourists taxi operators, on Friday evening, decided to extend their strike by another day. Members of the taxi unions said that they would not back down till their demands were fulfilled and were even ready for ‘jail bharo’.
The day-long strike, which was held in defiance of the impositions of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), and Section 144, passed peacefully with no incidence of violence from anywhere.
North Goa district magistrate Nila Mohanan has extended the imposition of Section 144 till Saturday midnight.
“We want the government to give it to us in writing that speed governors will not be made applicable for tourist taxis and that out meet our other demands will also be met,” spokesperson of North Goa tourist taxi association Laxman ‘Bappa’ Korgaonkar announced at a demonstration organised by the taxi operators at Azad Maidan, Panaji, from 10.30am to 5.30pm.
Korgaonkar requested taxi operators to keep their vehicles off the roads on Saturday also, from 8am to 6pm.
“We will all meet here tomorrow at 9am,” he told the gathered taxi operators, amid differences among the committee members over the future course of action.
Differences among committee members of the trade union were palpable with some operators openly expressing their apprehensions over continuing the strike for another day without discussing the matter amongst themselves first.
When BJP legislator and deputy speaker, Michael Lobo, TCP minister Vijai Sardesai, sports minister Jayesh Salgaonkar and WRD minister Vinod Palyekar came to meet the agitators at Azad Maidan, Korgaonkar told them that they are “tired of their empty promises”.
“Come here tomorrow only if you have in writing that our demands are met, otherwise your presence is not required here,” Korgaonkar said amid cheers from the crowd. Office bearers of taxi unions, however, maintained a stoic silence.
Korgaonkar said that chief minister Manohar Parrikar, during his tenure as defence minister, “visited Goa from Delhi every weekend to eat rice and curry, but he could not spare a few minutes to visit us here”.
Even as he said that there was no turning back now and that taxi operators were ready for ‘jail bharo’, Korgaonkar told members of North and South Goa tourist taxi associations not to resort to any kind of violence. Taxi unions, he said would not intervene or be responsible if any operator was arrested on the charge of misconduct.
“Please disburse peaceful, and we will meet tomorrow morning,” Korgaonkar said.
On the insistence of certain committee members, Lobo addressed the crowd and told them that their issues would be resolved.
On Friday, a last-minute decision by yellow and black taxis to participate in strike had caught authorities caught off-guard. Sources, however, said the yellow and black taxis would not be part of the strike for another day.
The strike affected tourists to some extent even as coaches were arranged by the government for transportation of guests to and from the Dabolim airport and railway stations. This service will continue on Saturday too, the government said.
The effect of the strike was not felt at the Mormugao port as no passenger cruise vessel was scheduled to berth on Friday. A cruise vessel is scheduled to reach Mormugao on Saturday.