Over 100 agitated tourist taxi operators from Morjim, Mandrem and Arambol met chief minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday and demanded action against Russians for illegally operating the taxi business along Pernem taluka's beach stretch.
The local populace, relying on small businesses, are agitated over the growing instances of Russians and Ukrainians, mostly on tourist visas, slowly taking control over tourism-related businesses in Morjim, Mandrem and Arambol. On December 17, taxi operators from Morjim had met local MLA and health minister Laxmikant Parsekar and urged him to look into their grievances. Parsekar had assured the taxi operators that he would take up the matter with the chief minister. The taxi operators, in the presence of Parsekar, informed Parrikar of the "threat" they are facing this tourist season."Travel agencies run by foreigners are eating into the taxi business being run by locals," said Vasant Shetgaonkar, who is leading the taxi operators' cause.
Foreigners venturing into running the tourist taxi business have annoyed local tourist taxi operators the most, as it is a small time business involving poor class people, the affected taxi operators claim.
"Some have bought new taxis. The monthly installment itself is 15,000 to 20,000 and with the invasion by the foreigners in the business, they only end up with business of 150-300 a day. Life has become miserable for them," Shetgaonkar said.
"After understanding the problems faced by us, the chief minister assured us and said that he will solve our problem within two days and asked us not to worry," Shetgaonkar said.
Local taxi operators said Russians have been operating the taxi business by arranging for vehicles in the beach belt from Morjim to Arambol. Some Russians have also opened a travel agency in Arambol. To avoid clashes with local taxi operators, tourists deal with the foreign taxi operators outside the villages and engage their services for their travel.
Locals have also demanded action from the chief minister against Russians putting up signboards in the Russian language at their establishments. The locals also warned that if their problem was not solved before December 27, they will resort to strikes and agitations. [TOI]