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Sharjah sees drop in illegal taxis, car lift

Ahmed Shaaban / 27 April 2011

The Sharjah Transport has reported 33.4 per cent drop in the number of illegal taxis and car lift providers in the first quarter of the year as compared to the same period in 2010.

The corporation attributed the decline to the incessant development of bus and taxi fleets, as 5,614 cabs and 224 buses are running on the emirate’s roads. The launch of new bus stops at crowded areas and the deployment of more patrols and controllers are additional grounds.

“Some 526 tickets were issued against motorists for commuting passengers in violation of law in the first three months of the year against 986 from January to March last year,” said Mohammed Al Buraimi, head of violations section.

Most of the motorists nabbed were offering car lifts in their private vehicles while some transport companies illegally commuted passengers without being licensed by the corporation.

As taxi meters have been calibrated several times to tick faster and fare has risen recently, more people —particularly low-paid workers— opt for cheaper illegal taxis irrespective of safety hazards. Minimum cab fare within the city is Dh10, and the meter starts at Dh20 for a Sharjah-Dubai trip. Tahir Rashid, a Pakistani expatriate, said he usually meets friends and relatives in Dubai on weekends, but cannot afford to take a taxi. “I only pay Dh10 to a private driver instead of Dh50 to 60 in franchised taxis.”

The Sharjah Transport, in March 2010, introduced a new scheme to make it easier for low-income passengers to share a cab from Sharjah to Dubai against Dh4 only, particularly from the National Paints Roundabout.

Finding an illegal taxi is an easy job at certain areas such as Rolla Square, where more patrols and inspectors are deployed. They mostly stop private cars carrying several people. Erfan, a cabbie with the Citi Cab, said illegal taxi drivers would never stop unless they are deported. “People caught operating illegal taxis face deportation in Dubai.”

Nonetheless, an illegal driver, who wished to remain unidentified, said he knew he was doing something illegal, but he was in a dire need for money to survive after losing his job as a salesman due to the financial crisis. “I just need to collect some money to pay my debts and buy a ticket home.”

Last year, the Sharjah Transport initiated a special programme, Takamul or Integration, to more effectively curb the phenomenon. “The licensing department issued up to 2,980 temporary shuttle permits for private vehicles and rented buses over the last 15 months,” he said, adding that the project had further led to a drop in traffic accidents and boost up passengers’ safety and convenience.”

As per a rule enforced since May 2009, if a driver provide car lift without being licensed, a fine of Dh5,000 will be imposed. “Repeating the violation draws a doubled fine of Dh10,000, and a stricter legal action is taken in the third time.”

Al Buraimi urged the public to refrain from taking illegal taxis which pose a big risk to their safety.

“In case of an accident, the driver and passengers will not be able to claim insurance money since the car is not licensed for public transportation.”

ahmedshaaban@khaleejtimes.com

 
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