Capital's cabbies in a fix

ABU DHABI -The arrival of a new company to ply taxis in the city has sent jitters among more than 7,000 cabbies, who see uncertain future ahead.

By Haseeb Haider

Published: Fri 2 Jan 2004, 12:27 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:14 AM

Khaleej Times spoke to some cab drivers, who said though they may lose their business, they were hopeful of finding new avenues of income.

Waris Ali, a young cabbie, said that there may be some complaints against them. But, people have to realise that we work for long hours and are under severe pressure. "My cab is pledged with the bank. I have to pay Dh1,800 as instalment towards the car and Dh1,300 to the owner, every month. This is a big financial commitment. If I can earn Dh1,400 a month, I'd be a happy man". At least 10-15 per cent of the taxis plying on the city roads are new ones and these drivers have to pay more to the bank and to the owners than those who have old cars.

Because of the large number of taxis on the capital's roads, the competition is fierce. Every penny counts, but, say these drivers, they hardly manage to meet their monthly target of Dh4,000-4,500 in case of new taxis and Dh4,000 in case of old ones. About 7,000 cabs have to chase a small number of passengers.

Kabir Hussain, a veteran cabbie who has completed 18 years in the city, said that this business was no more as attractive as it was five years ago. "Even after working for an average of 12-15 hours a day, seven days a week without an annual vacation, a taxi driver can earn a maximum monthly income of Dh1,300-1,500," he complained.

He was convinced that no taxi company could survive in the market unless the fare per kilometre was revised considerably. "They (the new companies) are charging Dh2 as the minimum metre fare initially, but they will have to increase it if they want to remain in business.," he predicted.

He said new taxis were being accorded priority for parking at major shopping malls in the city while the old cabs have to queue-up at a far off place resulting in long waits and a loss in business.

Mr Hussain said that sometimes cabbies, as well as passengers, misbehave with one another on minor things. "You cannot blame one party alone," he said.

In a city where car parking is a major problem, Mr Hussain said that many a time passengers forced him to stop the vehicle at a place where parking is not allowed, thus hampering the smooth flow of traffic.

When asked about violations of traffic rules, he said they were professional drivers and if they did commit some mistakes, it be blamed of heavy work pressure.

Waris Ali, who had been running a cab in Qatar earlier, urged the government to give cab drivers opportunities to work for the new taxi companies.

"We would also appreciate if we are allowed to obtain a heavy duty driving licence to drive trucks and buses which still have some scope in the emirate. Otherwise cab drivers have no future here", he said.

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