SHARJAH // More than 1,100 fines were issued to taxi drivers in the emirate in the first six months of the year for offences such as failing to turn the meter on and poor personal hygiene.
The Sharjah Road and Transport Authority levied 1,179 fines between January and June, up from 801 for the same period last year.
Cabbies’ offences included improper parking, dirty uniforms, and failing to keep taxis clean and tidy, said Rashid Al Nuaimi, the authority’s head of fines.
“Inspectors check the hygiene of the driver and the condition of his uniform. Taxis are also checked on their cleanliness,” he said.
“Cabbies found to be in violation are fined Dh200 to Dh3,000, depending on the violation and if the driver has a record of similar incidents.”
The number of fines levied came as no surprise to residents who have complained about drivers’ rude behaviour and inability in some cases to converse in English or Arabic.
“I have had a hard time speaking to many of the drivers, as most of them speak broken English and that leads to many problems and miscommunication,” said Rebecca James, a 25-year-old Filipino who works at Sharjah Mall.
“Over the past three years I’ve had several incidents when the drivers became rude after I told them to park for a few minutes to wait for a colleague to share the ride with me.
“They told me to get out of the cab. I reported the incidents to the authority.”
Iman Mohammed, a 27-year-old Syrian housewife, said taking a taxi could be difficult because of the language barrier with some drivers.
“I don’t speak English very well and the majority of cabbies are Asians and don’t speak English that well also,” she said.
“This causes problems in giving specific directions or when they take different routes that I didn’t choose to avoid traffic jams, which causes me to pay extra for the fare.
“The other thing is that some of the drivers smell bad and that makes the taxi ride sometimes unbearable.”
Abdulaziz Al Jarwan, the authority’s director, said taxi drivers mainly used English to communicate with customers.
He said 25 drivers were fined each day on average for breaching the authority’s rules.
Sharjah has 5,200 licensed taxis, with 4,700 drivers employed by three companies and the authority.
Taxi rates in Sharjah are the second most expensive in the UAE, with minimum fares of Dh11.50. Dubai has a minimum taxi fare of Dh12, the most costly in the country, while the rate in Ajman is Dh10.
Passengers in Abu Dhabi enjoy much lower fares, which start at Dh3.50. A minimum fare of Dh10 applies only after 10pm.
Taxi fares in Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah start at Dh3, day or night.
Mr Al Nuami urged customers to report any violations by taxi drivers to the authority’s call centre at 600525252.
(via The National)