(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Taking advantage of the Eid Al Adha holidays, cabbies in the Capital turned cowboys on Thursday and resorted to enforced Eidi (money given to children as Eid gift) from passengers by charging double and in some cases even three times.
The central bus station of Abu Dhabi City was flooded on Thursday and Friday, with people leaving the capital to celebrate Eid with their friends and family in Al Ain, Dubai, and other parts of the country.
And almost all cabbies in the city arrived at the bus stations to take advantage of the situation. They captialised on the large number of commuters waiting in long queues to board a bus. This, in turn, made it difficult for city commuters as most of the cabs were missing from the streets.
"I got the ticket for Al Ain at around 12 noon, and it is 2pm now but still I am in the queue to board a bus. It may take another one to two hours for my turn," said Mustafa Ali, an Indian passenger.
He said he wanted to take a taxi, but was shocked when he learnt the fare was Dh50. "Normally, taxis charge Dh20 to Al Ain per passenger, but this is crazy," he added.
It was theatrical watching the main bus terminal of the capital, the largest in the country, getting filled with people waiting to board buses, and hundreds negotiating fares with taxi drivers.
All the taxis, including those regulated by TransAD, had hiked fares. For Dubai, the fare was raised to Dh55 from the normal 25, for Al Ain from Dh20 to Dh50, and to Mussafah and Baniyas from Dh5 to Dh10. Similarly, for Al Khatim and Al Khazna, the fare was hiked from Dh10 to Dh15.
The bus terminal also attracted old taxis and 10-to 14-seat passenger vans that had disappeared from the city after the introduction of the TransAD silver cabs. All these passenger taxis and vans had made their way to the capital from Mussafah, Taweelah, Bani Yas and Al Ain.
"We work for 18 hours daily and hardly hit the target of Dh500, and get only 30 per cent of that. These are the days when we can make a little extra money that we deserve for serving the people," said a cabbie when he was told the fare to Dubai was too high.
To top it all, the vans were carrying almost twice the number of passengers. All the vans and some taxis were cramped with passengers. For every three seats, there were five passengers in addition to one sitting on the gear-box, and sometimes even on other people's laps. Waleed Ferouze, a Pakistani passenger who had boarded a van, said: "I'm sitting on my friend's lap because there was no other option.
There was no chance to get a seat in the bus, and even getting a ticket was impossible because of the huge rush. I cannot afford the taxis that are charging Dh25 for Al Khatim, where I'm going. The normal taxi fare is Dh10."