Illegal taxis in Abu Dhabi flourish as low cost entices customers
Trying to halt the flourishing business of illegal taxis and buses in the capital is a tough task for police when customers see a Dh10 legal bus pass as too pricey.
Warnings and hefty fines have not stopped many of the city’s low-paid workers using private cars and buses to get them from A to B because, they say, they are quicker and more convenient than public transport or taxis.
Passengers say the taxis are too expensive for them and some say that the city’s bus pass system is too technical for them.
Indian worker Shivam Kumar was waiting for a minibus on Muroor Road to travel to Baniyas labour camp, on the outskirts of the city. The minibus trip costs him only Dh5.
“There are saloon cars but they ask Dh10 for a trip to the same place, so I don’t want to ride with them, so I’m waiting for the minibus.”
Habibullah Jahan, a Bangladeshi worker, said that time was also a major factor.
Both men know that their transport is illegal but neither was fearful of police fining them.
“Let’s see when it happens. But, generally, police fine cabbies, not the riders,” Mr Jahan said.
Even being issued fines of Dh8,000 and Dh20,000 have not put off one illegal cabbie. Masood Khan said he has been fined in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai for his transport service and he will have to pay them if he want to renew his licence.
“I was just dropping off an Abu Dhabi passenger at the drop-off area and police approached me and I was caught.
“I am not literate, so can’t look for job, so what I can do? I don’t know anything else.”
Another illegal cab driver opposite Abu Dhabi’s main bus terminal, Taj Mohammed from Pakistan, was shouting out: “Musaffah, Baniyas. You don’t worry, police will not fine you, they will fine us.”
Outside St Joseph’s Cathedral, minibuses were offering their services, creating a big traffic jam and blocking access to the church in the process.
The problem is at its height on Fridays and Sundays, as the minibuses drop off and pick up churchgoers.
John Conrad is a network manager in Abu Dhabi who visits St Joseph’s. “We face big problems particularly on Fridays and Sundays. They not only block the main road in front of the church but they also move inside the parking lot and park in the front of the church – it’s too much,” he said.
TransAD, the taxi regulator in Abu Dhabi, did not reply to questions.