24 September 2016
Muscat: A company that won the contract to operate taxis at the Muscat airport said all of its 1,000 taxis will be metered or will follow a set tariff system, a senior official from Mwasalat said.

Mwasalat will manage 150 airport taxis, 300 mall taxis and 500 on-call taxis.

Speaking to the Times of Oman, Ahmad bin Ali Al Bulushi, chief executive officer (CEO) of Mwasalat, said they are working closely with the Ministry of Transport to regulate the taxi business in Oman. "We will try to have metering system in all the taxis, which we will operate in Oman," he stressed.

The Mwasalat CEO added that at present people don't know how much they will have to pay when they are travelling for example from Ruwi to Qurum. "Some taxis will charge OMR1, while some can charge OMR3."

He said the transport company will manage taxis at the airports, malls and on-calls taxis very soon as a licence has been given to them by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. "We want to improve taxi services in Oman step by step, which will also help the taxi drivers maximise their incomes."

Unified fare system

Welcoming the move, taxi drivers said they would also like to have a unified fare system.

"Fixed prices are better for customers in Oman as then they can't be cheated, whereas in metered ones customers don't know what they will have to pay at the end of the ride," said Suleiman Al Jardani, a taxi driver.

Abdullah, another taxi driver, said, "We want the customers to know what they have to pay. So the taxi driver will take the shortest route, but in other countries taxi drivers take the longer routes so that the fares go up and eventually people end up paying more."

Taxi drivers also said some passengers ask for a receipt from the taxi drivers. "Some people ask me for a receipt and I will be glad to give it to them, but I can't because the prices are not approved," he said.

Al Jardani also said there is a lot of competition, especially with Mwasalat coming into the picture. "I used to make OMR50 a day before Mwasalat, now I'm lucky to make OMR15 a day."

Taxi drivers also called for creating more designated parking stations for taxis in several areas in Oman. "We've been asking for parking areas for years. We need a specific station for taxi drivers and customers like any other country in the world," Al Jardani noted.

Taxi customers, however, want the taxis to be metered. "Almost all the developed countries have metering system in their taxis. It is high time that we should also have it here," said Sunil, an expat, who uses taxi services twice a day.

© Times of Oman 2016