Oman transport: In case of emergency, push panic button in Marhaba taxis

Oman Saturday 22/April/2017 21:31 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman transport: In case of emergency, push panic button in Marhaba taxis

Muscat: Panic buttons are to be installed in all Marhaba cabs to ensure the safety of passengers and drivers, the firm’s project manager has revealed.
Marhaba taxis say they will introduce the new safety feature for riders in Oman within a month to ensure safety in all of the cabs they operate in Oman.
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The move was welcomed by residents. The taxi company said that the buttons allow passengers in the cabs to notify an emergency response centre if something happens to them or the driver. “For security reasons, the riders will have four options to choose from during the time of emergency. This includes the call centre at Marhaba taxis, his/her relative, the complaint department for Marhaba taxis or the Royal Oman Police,” Yousuf Al Hooti, Project Manager of the Marhaba taxi project, told Times of Oman.
“These will be installed if someone faces any type of threat - including from the driver. Then there can be health issues or he or she wants to get in touch with family urgently,” he added.
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But the features of this button aren’t just restricted to in-car passengers: drivers too can use the panic button in case of an emergency.
“Even the drivers of Marhaba Taxi will have three options to choose from,” added Al Hooti.
“They can call the call centre or the operation department or the closest taxi around that area in case there is some problem with the vehicles,” he said.
Hooti said that these features would be launched within a month. “These types of facilities are available in very few countries,” he added.
The decision by Marhaba Taxis to install these buttons has been welcomed by locals and expats alike, as any untoward incidents in the cabs should now cease to occur.
“Once you step into a cab and the doors are locked, you are very much at the will of the driver. So this is a great move,” S Kumari, an Indian expat said.
Asma, a local woman, was also happy with the new service. “I am a housewife who has to travel outside of the home with my child at times, because I have to take her for many activities,” she told Times of Oman.
“It’s not safe sometimes, so it’s good to have this system, because then I know I am in a safer position and can call someone if anything does go wrong,”she added.
Residents also said that authorities should conduct systematic and regular checks to ensure that the buttons are working well and haven’t been disabled.
“Then the entire purpose would be defeated,” one said.
The safety move would also help improve relationships with hotels, with guests preferring to travel in a more secure vehicle, the Marhaba spokesman added.
“Some hotels are not co-operating with us. This is the challenge we are facing,” said Al Hooti.
According to the new taxi laws, orange and white taxis are currently not allowed to pick up guests from the hotels. “But in some hotels it is still happening,” he added.
‘Marhaba Taxi’, which had a soft launch recently, has also revised its fares. “From now on, the fare for the first six kilometres or less will be OMR3, and 350 baisas will be charged for every kilometre up to the next 6kms.
After the first 12 kilometres, the charge will be 150 baisas per kilometre,” he said.
Earlier the fare for the first five kilometres or less was OMR3.5 and after that it was 500 baisas per kilometre.
“We revised the fares following market demands,” he said.
About 150 taxi drivers have signed up so far, of which 60 cars are already operating on the roads. “When tourists used to come to Port Sultan Qaboos, some taxis drivers were seen fighting with each other to take the tourists. The government wanted to solve this issue and so announced a tender to manage the taxis at the hotels and the Sultan Qaboos Port,” he said.