Thousands of taxi drivers went on a strike in Goa on Friday against the state government’s decision to allow an app-based cab aggregator to function its services across the state.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant urged the taxi operators to return to work even after government pressed additional state transport corporation buses for tourists at the airport, railway station and bus stands.

CM Sawant said on Friday that he was willing to talk to the taxi operators. “We are willing to talk. If the taxi operators want the government can start a special app service for our striking taxi operators. But they have to embrace technology.”

But the Chief Minister refused to shut ‘GoaMiles’, the app-based cab aggregator service which has landed in a controversy in Goa.

“We have remained off roads to protest against the governments action of not scrapping GoaMiles and the protest is symbolic,” said Vinayak Nanoskar, a taxi union leader as quoted by PTI.

Vinayak further added that ” Yellow and black cabs, which operate from the Dabolim airport, have also joined us.” He said all tourist taxis and almost 25,000 of them remained off roads in Goa, where tourism remains the major business activity.

Earlier this week, the government had refused to accept the demand of tourist taxi unions to scrap app-based cab service GoaMiles, which is backed by the state-run Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC).

Tourists are facing problems while they are getting stranded in their hotels due to unavailability of taxis to ferry them to the Dabolim airport, which is deemed to be around 40kms from the capital Panaji.

Several attempts were made by the state government to install a fare-meter system have failed, even as a deadline of August set by the High Court to install fare meters in Goa’s taxis has also not been met.