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Posted On: 14 July 2013 12:29 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm

Hard times for legitimate taxi drivers

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While government authorities have launched a massive crackdown on illegal cabs, many legitimate taxi drivers in Qatar still find it hard to get passengers and earn enough money, it is learnt. The hot season has also added to their woes since most people prefer to stay inside air-conditioned offices or flats rather than roam around the city. “A few drivers, operating illegal taxis, have been nabbed and deported but many of them are still operating and using different strategies to get passengers,” said Nur, who arrived in Doha in October last year. He lauded the efforts of government authorities but many illegal taxis have come up with different strategies to get customers. These drivers, he stressed, stay inside the supermarkets and malls waiting for passengers. “Imagine a family who just came out of the supermarket and their shopping trolley is being handled by a different nationality? That is something unusual,” he added. Nur cited new company policies and low pay as reasons which have worsened their situation. He disclosed that they had been receiving at least QR1,400 a month, with free accommodation. But recently, the company has stopped giving them the QR200 food allowance for unknown reasons, reducing the total pay to QR1,200. The drivers also have to meet a quota of QR10,000 for three months, otherwise, they will be suspended for two weeks without pay. One of Nur’s colleagues lamented that those who will resign must bear the cost of their plane tickets. “That is the reason why the company doesn’t want to terminate us because they will be paying for our tickets. They are afraid to do that because many of us want to be terminated,” he said. It is also learnt that in some cases, the drivers’ families living in their respective countries are the ones who buy the plane tickets for them. Asked why they still want to work in Qatar, the group said they had debts to pay back home. “Even if it’s too hard to bear, we need to earn for our families. But if they will buy us our tickets, we are ready to leave right away.” Like Nur and his friends, the same situation is also being experienced by a Kenyan driver who refused to be named fearing reprisal. He has been driving in Qatar for almost five years. He admitted cheating his passengers by manipulating the car meter so he would charge more than the normal rates. Like Nur, he believes that crackdown on private cars should be implemented extensively since it is “killing” legitimate taxi business. “Even if you work for 12 straight hours, it would be very hard nowadays to meet the daily QR265 rental especially during weekdays,” he stressed. But he is hoping the company will introduce some reforms and positive changes beneficial to legitimate taxi drivers like him. But for a taxi driver like Andy who works for a different company, he said all is well for a hard working person who does not stay in one place and wait for passengers. Showing his earnings for the day, he disclosed that he earns more than the quota imposed by his taxi company. “I know it is hard to earn money but I think what we earn here is much better that what we earn back home,” he added. Andy also sends money to his parents and relatives to the Philippines. Meanwhile, it is learnt that many expatriates still rely on private cars because of the unavailability of taxis on minor and major streets of Doha.