Muscat: Almost all the taxis at Muscat International Airport are now metered, while city orange and white cab drivers say they are still waiting for their meter plans to get the green light.
Omani civil taxis still refuse to install a meter under the pretext that their main customers are labourers and will not be able to pay the fare and tend to negotiate a price prior to boarding the taxi.
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Suleiman, representing taxi drivers in the Sultanate, said it is not logical to install a taxi meter since there are minibuses also operating on the streets and they cannot charge for more than one people at any given time.
He added that many of his customers are labourers and they won’t be able to pay a large amount for travelling on a meter.
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“The buses take 200 to 300 baisas from Ruwi to Maabelah and they can carry more than 30 passengers. If I take one passenger, which is a labourer in most cases, charge for the same distance and on a meter, he won’t be able to pay,” said Suleiman, adding that the labourer will then opt for the cheaper option.
When asked as to why not suggest a fair price for the service, he said, “Logically speaking, even if a price is suggested, not everyone will pay for the taxi while you have a bus taking you for a much less price.”
Last year, Suleiman and other taxi drivers had a meeting with the Ministry of Transport and Communications to agree on regulating the prices suggested, but unfortunately the meeting resulted in a standstill while a response is yet to be given by the ministry.
Suleiman said they have been hit hard by the emergence of new taxi services saying they did not make as much as they used to.
“I used to stand at our ‘take-off’ point in Ruwi for 30 minutes until my minibus fills up; now I wait for hours and don’t move until it is full,” Suleiman explained.
“I used to make around OMR40 a day, but I’m lucky if I make OMR15,” he added.
He complained that the bus and airport taxi drivers have a monthly salary while the taxi drivers live off the fares they make.
“We are waiting for a response from the ministry at the moment,” stated Suleiman.
When asked about the new taxi service, which could feature soon on the streets of the Sultanate, he said it will affect them greatly.
“They are on-call taxis, so they cannot pick up passengers from the street, but it will hurt us a lot,” said Suleiman.