DOHA: Al Million, the first private taxi operator in Qatar has expanded its fleet with an additional 200 taxis, but the company says it is facing competition from the hundreds of illegal cabs.
Al Million launched its service in July last year with an initial fleet of 300 taxis, after the state-owned Mowasalat granted permission to three private companies to operate taxis on a franchise basis.
“Currently we are operating 500 taxis, with 200 new cabs added last month. There is a good demand for our service, but the competition we are facing is not from other operators but from the numerous illegal taxis,” a company official told The Peninsula yesterday.
He lamented that illegal cabs have been operating under the nose of the authorities and to serious action is taken against them.
“You can see them openly inviting customers near the central bus station and many shopping centers. We have requested Mowasalat and the Traffic Department to intervene to stop this illegal practice and are awaiting a positive response,” added the official.
The taxi service in Qatar is being diversified with an additional 800 cabs operated by Al Million and the second private operator Al Ijarah Holding, besides the nearly 2,000 Karwa taxis run by Mowasalat. Al Ijarah launched its service in October last year with an initial fleet of 80 cars and currently operates about 300 taxis.
Mowasalat has allowed each of the three private companies to operate a maximum 500 taxis in the initial phase.
Asked about the future prospects of the service, the official said: “We were told during the tender process that Mowasalat will gradually reduce the number of Karwa taxis allowing more room for the private operators. We expect Mowasalat will allow us to further increase our fleet in future based on an evaluation of our performance.”
“We have a very good response from the market and are expecting a break-even by the middle of this year,” he added.
He said the company is closely monitoring its drivers to improve their performance and reduce complaints from passengers.
“Recently we issued warnings to some drivers who were found to be taking passengers on fixed rates. We are using state-of-the-art meters which are difficult to tamper with. We are also trying to motivate our staff by honouring the best and outstanding drivers”, said the official.
The company currently has about 700 drivers plying taxis from a mix of nationalities. Similar to the Karwa taxi drivers, majority of them are working on a daily rental basis, paying QR265 to the company from their daily earning.