UAE - A private school located in the Khalifa City area of Abu Dhabi has issued a safety alert to students after a driver was seen trying to woo female students into his car.
The incident happened on March 11 around 5:00pm in front of Al Yasmina Academy.
Dr Tim Hughes, principal of the school, told Khaleej Times that a white Nissan car was seen parked at the zebra crossing on the main road adjacent to the school.
"The man inside the car was offering a taxi service to those leaving the school, but was not a registered taxi provider. Our security team alerted the police in the first instance and passed on the car's registration details."
The principal said that he also informed parents and asked them to be extra vigilant at drop-off and collection times, and to remind their children of the importance of vigilance in the community.
"In the interest of wider community safety, I also contacted the other nearby schools to inform them of the incident. Students were then reminded once again during the next school assembly not to accept a lift from strangers, and to only ever use licensed taxis."
Another school in the vicinity, Raha International School, also issued a safety alert to the parents notifying them of the incident.
"We live in a relatively safe society and therefore it is easy to let your guards down. We would like to remind parents to be extra vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the school," read the Raha circular.
Some senior school students Khaleej Times spoke to said that they had earlier spotted illegal taxis near their schools, especially in the evenings.
"There are students who stay back for evening activities and there is school transportation available. I know some students who use the illegal taxis to save a few bucks," said M.A., a grade 11 student.
A parent of Al Yasmina Academy, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that it was not clear whether the incident was related to illegal taxi service or something more serious. "Children's safety is a joint responsibility of the community. We all have to keep an eye on these rogue elements who may want to harm our children. I am happy that the school has proactively informed all parents and even the schools in the neighbourhood."
Many illegal taxis operate in Abu Dhabi despite authorities cracking down on these drivers. Last year in October, the Abu Dhabi Police said that they had registered 659 cases of privately owned cars that were being used as illegal taxis in the past three months.
The police have urged passengers not to opt for illegal taxi services.
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