Muscat: Airport taxi drivers will soon have the monopoly they wished for as the Royal Oman Police (ROP) has started fining orange taxis for picking up passengers on their turf, according to Salim Al Ghammari, a Municipal Council member. The move came after several complaints from airport taxi drivers working full-time at the airport.
“This rule was there earlier without being enforced, but the authorities concerned are now imposing it now very strictly,” said Al Ghammari.
The orange taxi drivers can drop passengers at the airport but they are not allowed to pick them up from there.
“This is the only source of income we have and it is not fair that orange taxi drivers compete with us,” said Abdullah Al Shibli, an airport taxi driver. He added that they have raised the issue with the authorities concerned.
“Orange taxis are working openly here. They even bargain with passengers inside the airport,” he said.
An aviation expert told the Times of Oman that such issues should be considered in the light of the opening of the new terminal of Muscat International Airport. He added that traffic to the airport should be given limited access when entering the premises.
Hussein Al Rahbi, the owner of an orange taxi, said that orange taxis should always be given the chance to work at the airport, either to drop off passengers or to pick them up at arrival.
He added that passengers should have the chance to choose between an airport taxi and an orange taxi.
“Sometimes, we offer more flexible services than airport taxis”, he said.
Ali Abdullah, a resident of al-Khoudh, told the Times of Oman that this issue needs to be settled.
“The first impression visitors to the Sultanate get from the country, are often the taxis”, he said. Settling this issue might save visitors from being ripped off, he added.
Suleiman Al Jardani, speaking on behalf of around 500 ‘orange’ taxi drivers, said that despite the ban, they are still able to drop off passengers at the airport.
“If I have a passenger from Ruwi who wants to go to the airport, I can still take him there, no problem,” he said.
Abdullah Al Shaibli, speaking on behalf of the airport taxi drivers, said the new rate starts from OMR6 and 200 baisas per kilometre. He said that customers will be able to choose between a fixed rate and the new rate, which has been implemented recently.
Municipal Council member Salim Al Ghammari told the Times of Oman that a new contract draft has been approved by the Municipal Council and it will be referred to the Minister of Diwan for the final approval.
The new contract will be signed by the airport taxi drivers and the Oman Airport Management Company (OAMC), and will help solve “many issues” faced by Airport taxi drivers, including safety, insurance, driving times, Al Ghammari said, while adding that the contract will also have provision for a pension plan for the drivers.
He added that the contract will only allow taxi drivers who work full time and who do not work for government or private companies.