Scores of taxi drivers have once again appealed to authorities to allow them to auction off their vehicle number plates as many are struggling to make ends meet, while others have had their plates withdrawn and licences suspended.
Around 200 drivers have renewed their appeal to His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, to allow a sale or auction of taxi number plates as soon as possible.
According to Public Transport Drivers Society chairman Mohammed Al Barboori, the pandemic has had a severe impact on the profession and although an official appeal was launched by the society in April no action has been taken since.
“We are in deep trouble, the sector is suffering and we are just pleading for a prompt solution,” he told the GDN.
“We have submitted an official letter twice in April and no action has been taken since.“
Many of the drivers are elderly and there is nothing they can do about these plates that some have paid thousands of dinars for.
“Selling our plates through a public auction was stopped in 2016 but it was reopened in 2019 after we tirelessly followed up with MPs and the National Institution for Human Rights.
“However, in September 2019 the Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry called us and informed us that the public auction has been stopped and we can’t even surrender our plates to our children.”
Mr Al Barboori said they were informed that Mazad – the organiser of Bahrain’s online and off-line auctions – would auction the plates.
He added that only six number plates were auctioned every few months – putting an immense pressure on taxi drivers in desperate need to make ends meet.
“We just want a solution to our plight and an official to meet with us,” added Mr Al Barboori.
“A meeting was held last December with the Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry and Mazad in order to reach a solution.
“They informed us that the decision to cancel public auctions was to organise the system.
“Public auctions should once again be allowed because we paid for these numbers and we should be allowed to sell them or pass them on to our children.”
The latest statistics reveal that there are 1,447 taxis registered with the Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry – 987 privately owned and 460 company-owned vehicles.
Mr Al Barboori’s concerns were shared by Public Transport Drivers Society vice-chairman Abbas Al Fadheli who highlighted that many taxi drivers were desperately appealing for an urgent solution.
“Most taxi drivers are in a terrible situation as some of them have had their licences withdrawn and they are elderly with multiple health concerns such as poor sight,” he said.
“We can’t sell our number plates based on our will – I submitted my plate for the auction and I was told I should wait my turn in 12 months or more.
“Public auctions should be allowed as these number plates are our own purchased property and we can’t even pass them down to our children.“
Under the current law, once a taxi driver dies the plates are withdrawn immediately by the government which leaves widows and orphans in the lurch.
“The law should be amended to remove this clause because it seems unfair that upon death a licence plate – which should be inherited by children – is taken by the government.”
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