Muscat: People in Oman can use their cars to pick up and drop off their friends, as long as they don’t charge them for it, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) said. The news comes after some people were stopped while dropping off friends and family members to the Muscat International Airport.
An official at the ROP told Times of Oman, “There is no problem in ferrying your friends in your vehicle but if money is involved, you will definitely end up with a hefty fine. ROP is carrying out patrols to catch violators, who are using their private vehicles to transport passengers in return for money. It’s illegal.”
According to Oman’s Traffic Law, running an unregulated carpooling service for profit carries a fine of OMR35 and may lead to the confiscation of the violator’s car. The illegal transporter is fined OMR35 the first time he/she is caught in the act. In case he/she repeats it and is caught for a second time, he/she will be fined and the vehicle used to commit the offence will be confiscated.”
“If he/she commits the same offence a third time, he/she will be fined and then referred to the Ministry of Manpower due to this violation of the Labour Law. Then, the fine will be OMR1,000,” the official added.
“It’s risky sometimes for passengers, as the cab driver could be driving without a licence, which poses a danger to their lives.”
“Low income expat workers sometimes choose to provide taxi services, as some members of the public will choose illegal taxis as a cheaper option, compared to the regular taxis,” he further said.
The Times of Oman approached residents and citizens to ask them for their opinion on this.
Sampath Kumar, an Indian expat, said, “A few days ago, I was dropping off my friend and his family to the airport but on the way, I was stopped and fined because the officials thought I was charging a group of people money to take them to the airport. This is not true, but I think that in the future, it is best that I avoid doing this, and I would ask others to also avoid it.”
Abdullah Al Jabri said that his company had asked people not to give a lift to others, after a few of their employees had incurred fines.
Abdullah Al Jabri told Times of Oman, “A few days ago, one of my expat friends asked me for a lift to the airport, but I had to very sadly turn him down. It is not the right thing to do, but I am scared of doing so, because my company has asked us not to do so. The job situation is not good at the moment, and I cannot afford to lose my job over such a simple thing. This may not be a very big thing, but the consequences are not good, so I would ask people to take the Mwasalat bus or public taxis so that they do not face any problems,” he added.
Illegal taxis are a cause for concern not just in Oman, but in other parts of the world as well. The European Transport Safety Council also conducted investigations into managing road risks for taxi drivers, passengers and other road users.
“Taking into account the trend of decreased car ownership, especially in urban areas, taxi travel should at least be safe, and ideally safer than using one’s own vehicle,” said Luana Bidasca and Ellen Townsend, the authors of the report. “In order to improve the safety of drivers and passengers, the taxi industry should commit to improving the quality and attractiveness of their services, as well as safety, by increasing the professionalism of drivers and managers.”
“The sector is largely made up of self-employed owner-drivers working long hours for a relatively modest financial reward with not insignificant personal risks,” they added.
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