Panaji: A day after Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin defended the act of his countrymen running the taxi business in Goa during their stay, a church-backed tourism watchdog has come out in the support of local taxi drivers.
"Tourist taxi business is a livelihood of locals and there are more than sufficient persons engaged into it not needing tourists to provide the services.”
"Russians arrive in Goa as tourists and not on business visas, which does not authorise them to get involved into business...This is an illegality", Fr Savio Fernandes of Centre for Responsible Tourism, a church-backed body, said in a press release issued here.
Kadakin told reporters here yesterday that Russians running taxi operations in Goa are in fact helping their fellow countrymen from being fleeced by local taxi operators who he alleged charge Russians ten times extra.
Countering this, Fr Fernandes said, "The Government of Goa has notified rates for the operation of tourist taxis. If any tourist thinks he is cheated then he can approach the law enforcing authorities and lodge a formal complaint demanding action".
Locals are up in arms against Russian taxi operators, saying the foreigners are snatching away their source of livelihood.
"A taxi driver seeks licences and permits to be able to serve as a legal driver, as per the requirements of the Directorate of Transport. In such a situation, how will a Russian who comes on a tourist visa be able to fulfil the requirements of the concerned department. Thus a Russian will not be able to function legally as a taxi driver", the release said.
Fr Fernandes said that it was not sure if these taxis are registered as tourist taxis with the concerned departments or any private vehicles are used to operate as taxis.
The organisation works for the cause of protecting local livelihoods and checking adverse impacts of tourism in the state.