Muscat: Speaking with Times TV, Yousuf Al Hooti, project manager at Marhaba taxi, said: “We have a women-only taxi service in our plans and we have asked the government to give us the licence to operate.”
Giving out more details, he said these taxis will be driven by female drivers and will be slightly different in appearance in order to differentiate it from the other taxis running on the streets. “The colour of the taxis will be different. It will be pink, blue and white. We are studying the design right now,” he said.
Al Hooti said a timeframe for when the taxis will be operational hasn’t been set yet. “We are in the process and we have to take the licence from Ministry of Transport (MoT) and it can only be launched after getting necessary approvals from the Ministry of Transport,” he said.
Women across the Sultanate have been actively commenting on social media platforms calling for the introduction of women-only taxis.
In a recent interview about smart cities, Rashmi Shrivastava, a resident of Oman posted a comment, “Plz sir start taxi service only for ladies”. This is just one among the many comments regarding this that flood Times of Oman’s social media pages.
Another working woman residing in Ruwi said, “Ladies who don’t have a licence avoid taxis because of the lack of safety. I will start using taxis if women-only taxis are introduced”
A week after Marhaba taxi was launched in the Sultanate, Hooti claimed that he isn’t getting a positive response from some of the hotels as they have been associated with the orange and white taxis for a long time and have built strong relations with them.
“Some hotels are not cooperating with us. This is the challenge we are facing,” he said. According to the laws, orange and white taxis are currently not allowed to pick up guests from the hotels. “But in some hotels it is still happening,” he added.
Ingenuity Technologies LLC has obtained the licence to run taxis at the Sultan Qaboos Port, hotels and will also provide on-call taxi services. On Tuesday, the MoT also urged all old taxi owners operating at hotels and the Sultan Qaboos Port to join Marhaba taxi and those operating in airport and malls to join Mwasalat taxi.
“If they do not join, then the two companies can choose any Omani citizen owning a taxi to operate in these areas,” a statement from Ministry of Transport had said.
Hooti has also urged all the orange and white taxis operating in the hotel and in the port to join Marhaba taxis. “We would like to have the cooperation on hotels on this,” he said.
There may also be scope for outdoor advertising on the new taxis. “The profit earned from these advertisements will be shared among taxi owners and company,” he said.
‘Marhaba Taxi’, which had a soft launch recently, has revised its fares for a promotional period.
“From now on, the fare for the first 6 kilometres or less will be OMR3, and 350 baisas will be charged for every kilometre up to the next 6kms. After the first 12 kilometres, the charge will be 150 baisas per kilometre,” he said. Earlier the fare for the first five kilometres or less was OMR3.5 and after that it was 500 baisas per kilometre.
“We revised the fares following the market demands,” he said.
About 150 taxi drivers have come on board with their cars, out of which 60 cars are already operating on the roads. “When tourists used to come at Port Sultan Qaboos, orange and white taxis drivers were seen fighting with each other to take the tourists. The government wanted to solve this issue and so announced a tender to manage the taxis at the hotels and the Sultan Qaboos Port,” he said.