Read also: Orange taxi drivers continue to fight meters in Oman
Muscat: A plan to regulate all taxis under a single company by the Ministry of Transport and Communications - which would allow customers to order a cab - has been rejected by Oman’s traditional ‘orange and white’ drivers. Such a company was suggested by the ministry under the framework of a new public transport system, Aziz Al Hassani, a member of the Shura Council representing Bausher, told Times of Oman after attending a meeting on the matter.
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“Most of the orange taxi drivers feel this would risk their taxi business which is their main source of income,” said Al Hassani. Last week Times of Oman reported how the ‘orange and white’ taxi drivers had again rejected plans for meters in taxis after fours years of wrangling over the issue.
Suleiman Al Jardani, speaking on behalf of some 500 drivers in Muscat, said such a new service would hurt the business of traditional, orange taxis.
“We don’t want any other company to come into the market. This company will hurt our business, as it will get exclusive access to strategic places like shopping malls. How will our taxis be able to earn money? If people can easily order a taxi, what’s the use of cruising taxis?”
“We need our own call centre, instead of another company which will make it more difficult for us. We are already facing difficulties due to the new bus service,” he said.
He explained that this call centre could be run by the ministry, with a website, or even an app available for customers.
“This service will make it easy for customers to get a taxi nearby. It shouldn’t be a matter of choice. All public taxi drivers should join this service and show their commitment to it,” said Al Jardani.
The Shura member said he believed there was merit in the idea of an ‘on-call taxi service’ using the existing orange and white service.
“Such a service might help those finding it difficult to stand in public areas looking for taxis, especially women and families,” said Al Hassani.
On the issue of installation of meters in taxis, he said that not all taxi drivers are opposed to this idea.
“It’s only the orange taxi drivers who have rejected it,” he said. “Driving a taxi in Oman is different as the driver drops different passengers to different destinations in one trip,” said Al Hassani, adding that applying meters on such taxis is completely wrong and not possible.
“Such an idea can be applied on services like airport taxis and tourism taxis only,” said Al Hassani, adding that such taxis deal with the number of trips and not with the number of passengers, therefore, meters are possible.
Al Hassani also suggested that tourism taxis should come under the Ministry of Tourism and the colour of those taxis should be uniform.
“It should be something like the airport taxis.”