Muscat: A final design of the new Mwasalat taxis awaits approval from the authority concerned before the official announcement, Mwasalat’s chief Ahmed bin Ali Al Balushi said.
Speaking at the First Oman Transports and Logistics Seminar, supported by Dr. Ahmed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, Al Balushi said the taxi design is ready and a final approval is awaited.
“In the first stage, the operations will cover the Muscat Governorate, the Muscat International Airport and commercial centres. Also, these cabs will be available on call,” the Mwasalat chief added.
However, Mwasalat doesn’t have the technology to operate and monitor the taxis but Al Balushi said authorities expect everything to be finalised by the fourth quarter of 2017.
“Once the technology is there, we will be able to officially take over the operation. So, by the third or fourth quarter, and hopefully early in the fourth quarter at the latest, the technology will be available,” assured Al Balushi.
“At this moment, we are recruiting various teams and liaising with the different authorities, such as the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the ROP and the OAMC,” he added.
When asked about the reaction of the orange taxi owners to Mwasalat and the plans to introduce new and improved taxis, he said to begin with, everyone will face certain challenges but added that so far, response has been mixed.
“Some of the orange taxi operators look at it positively, others have a negative approach. You have to face problems in the beginning but we believe they will understand with the passage of time,” explained Al Balushi.
So far, according to the Mwasalat chief, 230 taxi drivers have been recruited at the malls and 200 at commercial centres and for on call services.
“Initially, we are talking in terms of about 350 taxis at the most. This year itself or by early next year, we may secure 500 taxis. That, we think,will be a good start,” said Al Balushi.
Mwasalat recently launched a tender for 118 buses – 85 for Muscat and 33 for intercity and as replacement for existing vehicles. Al Balushi said they will announce the new routes once the tender is awarded.