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Illegal private taxis thrive in Muscat  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 03/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Illegally operating private taxis are in demand amongst low and middle-income expatriates who feel that licensed taxi drivers solicit exorbitant fares.Other than the comparatively low and flexible fares offered, instant availability and better safety are some of the reasons quoted by those who prefer private illegal taxis.''If I am to hire a licensed taxi to travel from Qurm to Ruwi, I will have to spend RO4, but private taxis charge just RO2. Despite being illegal, they are convenient and safe. Some legal taxi drivers have no manners, especially while dealing with women passengers. Moreover, private illegal taxis can be summoned with a call, while that's not the case with the licensed taxi drivers. They are not available whenever you want them,'' said Mary John, a saleswoman.The number of these unauthorised taxis has multiplied. A majority of their owners are in the business on a part-time basis to augment their income.Biju Ganesh, an illegal taxi driver, has been in this business for five years. ''Most of my clients are women and they prefer my service over licensed taxis because they feel safe and I do not overcharge them,'' he said.''I charge RO4 for a ride from Ruwi to Muscat International Airport, while other taxis charge RO6.''Licensed taxi drivers are financially hit due to the rising number of illegal taxis. ''Authorities need to take action against illegal taxi drivers,'' said Mohsin Rashid, a taxi owner and driver.''We know for a fact that many expatriates are involved in such illegal taxi business. If they are allowed to continue, many more expatriates will start this illegal business and many licensed taxi drivers will be hit.''According to ROP, very few licensed taxi drivers have complained to them about the issue. ''There have been very few complaints from licensed taxi drivers about illegal private taxi business. Transporting people for money in private cars is against the law and those caught doing this face legal action,'' a ROP official said.Illegal taxis are often used to travel to and from office. ''I pay RO30 a month to travel from Qurm to Ruwi, which is cheaper than hiring a licensed taxi, which will cost me more than RO60,'' Mary said.Habib, who has been ferrying people illegally for six years now, said, ''I pick up office-goers and students. The place is not a criteria as I pick them up from anywhere, be it home, office or school. Thus it is extremely convenient for them and also I charge very less.''(Some names have been changed to protect identity)


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