Improving the existing taxi services should be given more importance than creating additional franchisees, say many residents in Qatar.
The residents, while welcoming Mowasalat’s plans to float tenders for three more taxi franchisees, said the focus should be on enhancing the services of the three existing operators.
There has been a significant growth in the number of taxis since Mowasalat’s Karwa cabs hit the roads in September 2004. However, many residents say the service provided by the three companies is not significantly better than the one provided by the orange-and-white taxis, which were withdrawn in December 2004.
“The drivers of orange-and-white taxis were at least familiar with most roads. But many of the drivers now have absolutely no understanding of city locations even after equipping their vehicles with advanced communication gadgets,” said a resident.
Stressing the need to improve the quality of taxi services, an expert said the drivers should be trained by qualified professionals so that they would deliver better services.
“Mere addition of taxis is not enough to improve the quality of service provided,” he said.
Some of the residents also doubted if the decision to float tenders for more taxi franchisees was taken after carrying out a proper study of the actual market requirements. A number of drivers working on daily contract basis with the existing companies are always complaining of poor revenues and many of them are reportedly failing to reach the daily target of QR265 fixed by their employers.
“It remains to be seen if the new companies are able to sustain in a highly competitive market as there is already a feeling among a section of drivers that the market is somewhat oversupplied,” said a business consultant. However, there are others who feel there is enough space for more taxi operators in the country. As the population is growing, the market will continue to grow and more taxis will be required in the coming days, said a resident.
“Besides, the recent restrictions on issuing new driving licences will go a long way in boosting the taxi market,” he felt.
There has been a massive growth in the country’s population. Qatar’s population, which was around 540,000 a decade ago, has now crossed the 2mn mark.
“However, it is doubtful if the taxi market has recorded a similar growth in the last 11 years,” said a Western expatriate who regularly participates in regional transport conferences.
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