Muscat: A free ride from Birkat Al Mouz, at the base of the towering Jabal Akhdar mountains to the top, is a service provided to local residents by the Ministry of Defence.
Everyday, Ministry of Defence vehicles run a free taxi service, which carries area residents from the bottom to the top of the Jabal Akhdar mountains. Most of these people include local residents who live there, or teachers and nurses who work in the handful of schools in the mountainous region.
Although the roads are paved and there are specially built safety measures, the roads still remain steep and the route is complicated for drivers unfamiliar with the terrain.
Moreover, most people making use of these services do not drive, including women and older adults, who have to make their way up and down the mountains for work.
“The driving is safe and professional”, said Syed Anisuddin, a government employee who has used this taxi service for tourism work. “It is, simply put, a free taxi service which picks up people from the foothills of the mountains, drops them to their destination and returns. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the magnificent view” he added. The passengers are carried to their destination in a Ministry 4x4 vehicle, dropped at their destination and the service is also used by people to travel from one area to another on top of the mountains. “Everyday we carry around 20-30 people up and down the mountain in our 4x4s,” explains Khalid, who is in-charge at the base camp. “The service is twice a day, once in the morning and once at sunset, and it is free for everyone.”
Such measures have shown the concern of the government in Oman in helping local populations.