Muscat: Global ridesharing service Uber is welcome to operate in Oman, but only if it follows the regulations of the Sultanate, the country’s Minister of Transport and Communications said.
“Uber is welcome to the Sultanate if they agree to operate under the regulations set by the ministry,” Dr Ahmed Al Futaisi said.
According to the minister, “Services such as Uber and Kareem can be implemented in yellow taxis only after meters are installed in the vehicles.”
Speaking at a press conference by the Ministry of Transport and Communications in which the ministry reviewed its plans for 2019, the Minister spoke about the possibility of allowing international taxi services to operate in the country.
“We are aware that this is a service that many travellers and tourists look for, but if they are to operate here, they must do so following the country’s ways and not their own ways,” the minister added.
The minister also addressed concerns by some taxi drivers who do not support the implementation of meter systems. “Installing meter systems in taxis is compulsory. Drivers will not be able to renew their permits if they do not install meters.”
“Oman is a developed country, there is no developed country around the world that does not have meters in their taxis. So why should Oman fall short in this aspect?” asked the minister.
“We are calling on all taxi owners to completely cooperate with the ministry, just as the ministry cooperated with them as much as possible,” he said.
“We have done our best to compromise and accommodate taxi drivers; for instance, if there is an agreement between the passenger and the driver not to turn on the meter then the decision is left to them, but the meter must be installed and available to everyone that would like to use the service,” added Al Futaisi.
“Taxi drivers also asked if they could carry more than one person, and we agreed so the passengers could split the meter fare,” he added.
In November 2018, the ministry announced that starting June 2019, all taxis in Muscat would have meters that would start at a base fare of 300bz and would increase at a rate of 130bz per kilometre.
The implementation will begin in Muscat, and then move to the other governorates. The Ministry also issued a ministerial order regulating the activities of taxi operators and car rental services under the Land Transport Law.
The regulations include a fine of OMR50 for failure to run the meter and OMR200 for removing the meter altogether and OMR50 for using a vehicle with shabby interiors or exteriors.