Saturday 09 Dec 2023

‘Kuch bi chalta hai’ vibe in Goa has to change

| NOVEMBER 15, 2023, 12:16 AM IST

The horrific Saturday evening Vagator accident that snatched the life of the owner of a resort, comes as another grim reminder that rash and negligent driving is here to stay and that the State machinery has a mountain to climb to restore normalcy.

The case in point is about the recklessness with which the SUV owner drove the vehicle zipping past all obstacles and crashing into the the premises of La Maior Roma Resort before killing the lady owner. While accusations have been flying thick and fast of drunken driving, preliminary tests conducted at Asilo Hospital did not suggest that the driver was in an inebriated condition, putting the focus back on reckless and negligent driving.

Goa is projected as a fun tourism destination where alcohol flows almost freely, and where tourists consider it normal to lower their guard and go freewheeling. It has become more of a habit for tourists to try something out of the way — from road stunts, driving on beaches and racing. Mind you, this is not restricted to just tourists. Locals too have been engaging in racing, rash and negligent driving all along. Even while piece was being written, a video of a local doing a bike stunt on the service road along the Panaji highway was doing its rounds on social media.

People frequently running amok with cars and bikes, overspeeding, breaking rules and trampling down innocent people is disturbing. The Banastarim accident was another case of rash and neglient driving.

The worry is that a culture has set in where tourists, and in some cases locals, take liberties with the law. Overspending, drunken driving, driving at prohibited areas and showing scant respect to the laws of the land are traits that are increasingly seen in Goa in recent times.

It appears we are in a helpless situation because of the “Kuch Bi Chalta Hai” vibe that is generated. Partly, the system has to take the blame for going soft on tourists in a bid to save tourism. Goa will have to pursue a disciplined tourism model where visitors play within the rules, or else nothing would change.

On another note, while police may be helpless in such accident cases, they seem to have not learnt their lessons well. A black bag was taken out by a Russian woman from the car after it crashed into the hotel, right in the presence of a police official.

Given the situation, the area should have been immediately cordoned off, and no person should have been allowed to trespass. A police claiming helplessness in stopping the lady take the bag away from the scene of accident, which could have been some evidence later, shows complete immaturity in handling sensitive matters.

The system has got a habit of waking up only after fatal accidents. If discipline is priority, then it has to be visible right through. A few days of alcometer checks and random awareness drives and safety weeks will change nothing. We will be living in a fool’s paradise if we assume that awareness and words of caution are going to change the course in Goa. We have gone wayward by miles.

What Goa needs is zero tolerance towards overspending, rash and negligent driving and those endangering life of others. We have to send out a message loud and clear that Goa is not a “free for all” State.

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