Shortage of drivers hits taxi services in Sharjah

SHARJAH — High rates of terminations and resignations have reportedly led to a shortage of drivers in the ever-expanding fleet of Sharjah taxis.


Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Wed 13 Aug 2008, 1:32 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 5:02 PM

Sharjah transport officials say that the current fleet of 5,000 taxis is understaffed and overworked. In July, the Sharjah Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) announced the addition of 1,000 new taxis of which 550 vehicles have been earmarked for initial operation. However, SPTC sources say the entire fleet may not be able to function as the corporation doesn't have enough drivers.

"Drivers are terminated mainly due to the large number of complaints lodged against them by customers, or as part of disciplinary actions against them," says Ahmed Hamza, Operations Manager of Emirates Taxi. "Others resign because they cannot bear the hectic lifestyle," he adds.

Drivers, however, deny the charge and say that the poor payment schemes and heavy deductions from their monthly commissions was discouraging them from taking up the jobs. Hamza adds that at least 50-100 drivers were terminated from the fleet last year alone while a similar number resigned. Currently, the Emirates Taxi, which is a franchise company operating under SPTC, has 1,020 vehicles.

"We are in touch with the local and international agents in the GCC to provide us with drivers, but because we have a strict criteria, not everyone can be hired," he adds.

Also, drivers undergo stringent practical and theoretical interviews and training. "We also check their capability and attitude towards customers before hiring them," explains Hamza.

Before being terminated, drivers are given at least two verbal warnings, followed by a monetary fine. Only then they are terminated as the final disciplinary act.

Drivers do not get a fixed monthly salary, instead get a 30 per cent commission.

Mohammed Al Haddad, Chief Executive Officer of Advantage Taxi, however, claims that his drivers are happy. "They get Dh2,000 plus a bonus if they earn more than Dh10,000," he says. Haddad, who heads the biggest fleet of 1,250 vehicles in the emirate, claims there is a low rate of terminations in his company. "Other companies have poor payment schemes and do not have fixed monthlies. That is one reason why drivers quit," he alleges.

A driver from a franchise, speaking on the condition of anonymity, says that the deductions done by their management are not justified. "We are told we have committed a traffic violation, but we are never shown any proof. Likewise, customer complaints shown to us are also not substantiated," he says, adding that his 'take home' salary is hardly enough. "I will quit soon and take up some respectable job," he adds.

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