Muscat: More parking areas, drop-off zones and waiting rooms should be created for taxis in Oman, say taxi drivers.
These are some of the demands of taxi drivers while they await an overall regulation of the taxi sector currently under discussion by the authorities.
“In Muscat, we do not have enough parking space. Since Mwasalat is here, they have taken away our parking areas,” Sulaiman Al Jardani, taxi drivers’ spokesperson said during a tour with the Times of Oman (TOO).
“We are forced to illegally use other parking areas and if caught by the police, we get fined for parking there,” he added.
Al Jardani showed TOO one of the crowded parking lots from where taxis are now operating. “Early morning, we cannot park here and we risk a fine from the police,” he said.
“We need an organised place where we can park and operate from. We know that the government is doing its best and we are ready for their decision,” he stated.
Adil Al Balushi, a fellow taxi driver, confirmed that the priority for taxi drivers was to get proper parking areas from which they can operate. “The thing we are looking for is proper parking space. Now we risk a fine from the police and that costs us our income. This is the main problem,” he said.
Al Jardani pointed out another problem taxi drivers are facing, which is the lack of proper pick-up and drop-off zones in Muscat.
“As there are no such zones, we are forced to stop anywhere, which leads to dangerous situations. We need proper pick-up and drop-off zones to safely pick passengers,” he said.
The Municipal Council of the Muscat Governorate had discussed on Monday a proposal by taxi drivers to construct more waiting rooms for the benefit of taxi drivers. The Council has agreed that waiting rooms are not the priority at the moment, according to Malik Al Yahmadi, member of the Municipal Council. Al Yahmadi told TOO that this should be part of the overall plan to regulate the sector. “It was agreed upon that this issue should not be solved in this way. The taxi sector as a whole needs to be regulated. It would not be fitting to build waiting rooms for taxis, without the sector being regulated. Currently, this issue is not considered important,” he said.
Although the taxi drivers agreed that waiting rooms will not be a priority for them, they urged authorities to build more in the near future. Currently, there is only one air-conditioned waiting room in Ruwi for taxi drivers and passengers.
“We have been asking for these rooms for years,” Al Jardani said. “Waiting rooms are both good for taxi drivers and passengers, since it will be around 48 degrees in summer,” his colleague Al Balushi said.
Another taxi driver, Adil Al Siyabi, said that although the current room is comfortable, he would like more of those rooms to be erected. “It is very important for everyone to have a place to rest. We are asking the Municipal Council to follow up on this issue and build more rooms,” he said.