Goa's motorcycle pilots, who run a unique and traditional two-wheeler taxi service, have urged Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to put an end to Uber Connect, a package delivery service using two-wheelers started recently by the global travel aggregator in several Indian states, including Goa.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and BJP General Secretary Damu Naik at the former's official residence here on Thursday, Suresh Thakur, head of the Goa Motor-Cycle Taxi Riders Association, said that at a time when business is already low due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Uber's recently introduced package service is eating into their traditional business.
"We have urged the Chief Minister to look into our demand for shutting down the package service. Some personnel from the company have also been also caught soliciting the passengers, which is against the norms," Thakur said.
Goa's motorcycle taxi rides were formalised as a public transport service in the early 1970s. While individuals on motorcycles used to ferry passengers from Point A to Point B during the pre-Portuguese era, it was only during the regime of Goa's first Chief Minister Dayanand Bandodkar post the state's liberation in 1961 that the transporation system got legal recognition.
Typically, pilots astride their yellow and black painted motorcycles can be hailed in busy thoroughfare areas like markets, bus stations, ferry jetties etc. and the unique service, which is cheaper than taxi and auto-rickshaw rides, is synonymous with Goa.
Thakur said that owing to the nature of the motorcycle pilot-based transportation service, where a passenger has to sit pillion, in close proximity to the rider, demand for pilots had decreased during the pandemic, when social distancing is critical to keep Covid-19 at bay.
"We have also asked Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to revive some old financial aid schemes in these times, when the business is slack," Thakur said.