Complaints keep pouring in from commuters against taxi drivers and even some “limousine” operators in the country.
The alleged wrongdoings of the cabbies include misbehaviour, overcharging and refusal to travel short distances and to some areas.
The seriousness of the matter was highlighted by the recent experience of a Filipino expatriate involving a taxi driver. In a letter to Gulf Times, which was published on March 2, the woman alleged that a taxi driver behaved rudely with her, did not take her to the place where she wanted to go and asked for an unreasonably hefty sum when she decided to get down as she felt intimidated by his behaviour.
As she argued over the fare and opened her wallet, the cabbie snatched it and sped away, according to the woman. She later lodged a complaint with the Karwa customer service.
While this may be an extreme case of alleged misconduct by a taxi driver, instances of misbehaviour and overcharging by cabbies are quite common, say commuters.
While finding a taxi is in itself a difficult task at many locations, convincing the driver to go to a particular destination without charging anything extra could be even more challenging, it is understood.
This was evident outside Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) during the recent jewellery exhibition. Some of the visitors recounted angrily their experience with local taxi drivers as well as some of the new “limousine” operators.
“The cabbies were asking for exorbitant fares to go to different locations from the convention centre. It was really difficult for us (visitors to Qatar) as only a handful of taxis were available for most of the exhibition,” said an official of a jewellery group that had come from Dubai to participate in the exhibition.
“Though the convention centre is really good, the poor taxi service made our commute between QNCC and the city an extremely difficult task,” he added.
Similar sentiments were echoed by other participants as well. They had to make alternative arrangements for their travel as they could not rely on the taxis.
While narrating an unpleasant experience he had with some cabbies, a participant at the exhibition said one of them asked for QR75 to go to a hotel in Msheireb from the convention centre. “Ultimately, I was forced to share a taxi with two other customers to reach the hotel, with each of us paying QR25.”
Explaining his recent experience in a neighbouring GCC state, a visitor said if a complaint is lodged against a driver there, prompt action is taken against the erring cabbie.
When contacted, a driver with one of the Karwa franchisees said it was difficult to travel to and from the convention centre owing to ongoing road works in the area and traffic congestion. However, he had no excuse when asked why cabbies were overcharging customers to go to QNCC.
Some visitors who relied on taxis during the recent exhibition at QNCC also suggested that in order to improve the availability of taxis at the venues of major events, organisers could inform taxi and “limousine” companies in advance about the enhanced requirements to ensure the availability of adequate number of cars.
Meanwhile, the main complaint against “limousine” operators is that their charges are sometimes unjustifiably high and that they can be as “ruthless” as the cabbies when it comes to fares. However, they are still considered better behaved and more reliable than most taxi drivers, according to sources.
“In a country where bus services are yet to become popular with a large number of residents, a proper and complaint-free taxi service is a necessity. At present, it is doubtful if the country’s taxi service meets the requirements of customers, both residents and visitors,” said a resident.
When contacted recently, an official at Karwa said the company does not tolerate any sort of indiscipline. He said action is initiated against drivers the moment the office receives a passenger’s complaint. However, it is not known how many customers lodge complaints with the regulator.
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