Dec 04 2011
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Saudization blues for taxi firms
Critics say the Ministry of Labor has failed to provide this sector with 10,000 Saudi drivers to replace foreigners. On the other hand, taxi companies say that Saudi drivers are unreliable, reported Al-Hayat Arabic daily Friday.
The Shoura Council is currently studying proposals that may solve this situation. If this is approved, then Saudis have to be convinced to take up fulltime jobs in the industry. But taxi companies are also opposed to Saudis working full-time in the industry.
Muhammad Bajad Al-Wahtan, chairman of the taxi committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that around 14 percent of taxi companies have closed down because of the lack of drivers.
According to Al-Wahtan, there are 350 taxi companies, each with about 50 to 60 cabs. "There's a lack of drivers because taxi companies' recruitment applications were rejected. Another reason is Saudi drivers prefer to work with their own cars instead of working for taxi companies. The Ministry of Labor has also failed to provide Saudi drivers."
Taxi companies should be allowed to recruit drivers from abroad to help them improve their services, Al-Wahtan added. "Taxi companies will feel honored to hire Saudis but Saudis are not ready to work full-time for taxi companies." Al-Wahtan attributed high taxicab rates to the lack of cabs.
In a previous report published by Al-Hayat, the committee of transport, communications and information technology of the Shoura Council, recommended that the Ministry of Transport should work with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs to build a public service network of buses and trains inside cities, to help tackle traffic jams and reduce the dependence on taxicabs.
Meanwhile, Brig. Muhammad Bin Hassan Al-Qahtani, Director of Jeddah Traffic, said that in 2010/2011 (1432H) over 2,130 taxi drivers were fined for not having driver's licenses, 3,502 for using normal driver's licenses, and 2,880 fined for not renewing their licenses.
Dr. Sa'doon Al-Sa'doon, deputy chairman of the transport, communications and information technology committee of the Shoura Council, said: "The solution is for taxi companies to offer Saudi drivers lucrative salaries and easier working hours."
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