UAE - A total of 10,191 fines have been imposed on violators found offering illegal car lift service in Sharjah this year until mid-August, according to an official at the Sharjah Roads and Transport Authority (SRTA).
Abdul-Aziz Al Jarwan, director of the SRTA, said as part of an intensified crackdown, inspection teams from the authority zero in on illegal transportation being provided to the public in private cars and company vehicles. Offenders will have to face hefty fines, he warned.
These steps are being taken to promote the use of taxis in the emirate, which has seen a sharp decline in the past months."
Al Jarwan said the SRTA inspection team, which comprises 39 officers who are authorised to apprehend the violators and fine them, will continue to combat the negative phenomenon through inspections. During the Eid Al Adha alone, the inspection resulted in issuance of 259 fines and 318 violations. The inspections covered all the areas of Sharjah, especially the industrial areas near labour accommodations and shopping centres.
Al Jarwan urged the public to report such illegal practices through the SRTA call centre on 600525252, which receives public comments and enquiries 24/7.
25 inspections target taxi drivers
Rashid Khalid Al Nuaimi, director of the department of transport activities control, said that the SRTA makes every effort to provide best services to the users of public transport and promotes mass transport because it eliminates traffic congestion and reduces environmental pollution. "Through the quality control services section of the SRTA, we work to provide taxi services, especially at the Sharjah airport, hospitals, shopping malls, and various events, due to the demand of public transport in these places."
He added that his department carried out 25 inspection campaigns targeting taxi drivers, who received 7,928 fines for failing to follow their turns near malls or other areas and for haphazard parking that blocks traffic. The SRTA has also launched new smart system for finding violations related to quality control. The system would send an alert message to the taxi driver informing him of his violation, he pointed out.
Extra cash motivates drivers to provide illegal car lift services
While most drivers are aware that providing car lift service without a licence is illegal, many of them still continue to lure customers to make some extra cash.
Mohammed, K, a driver who offers illegal car lifts, said he has been transporting passengers for amounts less than the taxi charges, which was why many people preferred to take his offer. "Despite knowing that it is illegal, I do this to make ends meet. I have to take care of the education of my four children and their health needs too. My salary is not enough to cover all these expenses," he said.
Another former cabbie, who now provides car lifts, said his taxi was taken a long time ago and the Sharjah Road and Transportation Authority (SRTA) refused to hire him as a driver due to his age. "I can't afford to stay idle and need money to survive till I find a job as I am staying with my son and his wife and don't want to become a burden on them."
Choudari.K, another illegal driver, said that he was working as an accountant with a construction company which terminated him to reduce costs and he needed money to sustain his family, and therefore, decided to transport people.
An official at the Sharjah Police traffic department said that patrols deployed in various parts of Sharjah have noticed that drivers of private and rented cars hang around near shopping malls and places frequented by Asian expats to offer them lifts at rates lower than the taxis. The Sharjah Police recently organised campaigns to nab these illegal drivers. During the campaign, vehicles - including rented ones which are used for transporting passengers - were confiscated by the police.
"The police are keen to enforce the law and implement regulations pertaining to public transportation to maintain security in the emirate. This illegal practice also contributes to traffic congestion and affects security," he pointed out. He said that if these cars are involved in an accident, both the driver and the passengers will not be able to claim insurance since the car is not licensed for public transportation.
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