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Taxi drivers soliciting long-distance passengers at the Mowasalat bus terminus yesterday.
BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: A number of Al Million and Karwa taxi drivers are using their taxis as shuttle services. They can be spotted in their company uniforms at the Mowasalat bus terminus, loudly soliciting long-distance commuters. This is affecting long-distance Mowasalat bus services.
Of late, many drivers, mostly those given taxis for 11 hours by their companies against an average rent of QR265, struggle to earn the amount within the given time. Many driven by fear and some by greed, are using their taxis as shuttle services.
The drivers, without any fear of being noticed or caught by the authorities concerned, blatantly shout place names such as Al Khor, Lusail, Sanaiya, Mesaieed, Shahaniya, Wakra, Dafna, etc at the bus terminus to attract commuters waiting for Mowasalat’s bus service. They usually target long-distance commuters and charge between QR5 and QR20 from each. The fare largely depends on distance and whether a commuter can indulge in a hard bargain.
Drivers park their taxis at a safe distance, usually in a large empty plot just opposite the waiting lounge of the bus terminus. Some of Al Million and Karwa taxis could be seen parked one after another.
People often complain about long waiting time and difficulties to find taxis on the roads, compelling them to rely on illegal private taxis.
While on the other hand, taxi drivers have other stories to tell. They often rue that due to private taxis and traffic jams they (taxi drivers) have been facing a lot of difficulties to earn the daily rentals.
One of Al Million taxi drivers at the bus terminus while talking with a commuter who was just arrived was heard, saying: “Al Khor? Give only 20 riyals. There are already three passengers sitting inside the taxi. If you come along, I’ll move without delay.”
Asked if they were allowed to solicit bus commuters from the terminus like this, one of the drivers quickly said: “As we cannot park our vehicles anywhere else, we came here to take some rest. Now, since we are going we are taking some passengers.”
It is not only the taxi drivers who are involved in this practice. Illegal private taxi operators can also be seen in large numbers shouting place names and offering shuttle services.
It was also found that there are people dedicated to collecting commuters as one person could be heard and seen soliciting them for different places.
One of the drivers approached this reporter and asked: “Where will you go? Are you alone? Wakara, 10 riyals and Mesaieed 20, just moving, no delay.”
Not all the commuters have similar empathy with the drivers and their behaviour.
“I don’t know whatever may be the problems of taxi drivers, but I have a very bad experience of travelling in private taxis. They often try to grab money by this way or that way. Sometimes they press “O” (Out) instead of “I” (In) even if they are plying within Doha. So now I have hired a regular taxi. I pay him QR800 per month,” said a working lady from Sri Lanka.