(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Several owners of service taxis operating between Amman and Damascus on Thursday said that allowing them to ply routes within the Kingdom and to Saudi Arabia to make up for their losses amid low demand for travel to Syria is "good but insufficient".
They said a decision by the Land Transport Regulatory Commission (LTRC) to temporarily license their vehicles to operate inside the Kingdom and on the route to Saudi Arabia shows "good intention" but will not make up for their lost revenues.
"There is no demand for travel to Syria at all. Since the beginning of the unrest in Syria, our business has been hit hard and we are suffering," Mohammad Erbeihat, owner of Al Sham Transport Agency, told The Jordan Times on Thursday.
"There are not enough passengers wanting to travel to Damascus every day. Our office hardly sends one car with five passengers to Syria each day," he said.
The LTRC has given temporarily licences to about 150 cars out of 800 plying the Amman-Damascus-Beirut route to operate inside the Kingdom and to Saudi Arabia, LTRC Spokesperson Ikhlas Yousef told the Jordan Times on Thursday, adding that the rest will eventually receive licences to do the same.
Service taxi owners said passenger traffic to Syria has fallen 95 per cent from the beginning of this year to date, compared to the same period last year, acknowledging that the only way they will make up their losses is if the unrest in Syria ends.
"People are afraid to go to Syria nowadays," Erbeihat noted.
Owners said a majority of their taxis are 2010 and 2011 models, which makes it "illogical and unfeasible" to use them on domestic routes
"I have many brand new Mercedes cars and even if I am allowed to operate routes locally or to Saudi Arabia, I will not use them as service taxis in the country. This is not feasible," Sami Abdullah, owner of Al Abdali Transport Agency, told The Jordan Times on Thursday.
"We might use some of our old cars on internal routes, but it is illogical to use our brand new cars," he said.
Husni Abu Eldahab, who works as a driver on the Amman-Damascus-Beirut route, disagreed.
"I prefer to operate domestic routes rather than stay at home with nothing to do. I used to make about JD500 to JD700 per month before the unrest in Syria and nowadays there is no work. If I make JD300 working internal routes it is fine. At least I can pay my rent and for the gas my car consumes," he said yesterday.