Times of Oman
Nov 28, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 03:03 AM GMT
Private vehicle owners dent local taxis, cargo business
December 30, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Illustrative purpose only

Muscat: A number of taxi drivers and cargo truck drivers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the private vehicle owners using their vehicles for commercial purposes.

They claimed that there are many vehicle owners, especially expatriates, driving buses and pick-up vehicles, who stop and drop passengers or carry luggage at much lower rates than that charged by legal taxis and cargo vehicles.

"Many passengers demand that we bring down the prices or they would stop utilising our services," said Saud Al Salmi, a taxi driver. He added that driving taxis was no longer a viable option with mass transit buses and other passenger transport companies coming into the business. The fact that private vehicles' owners use special methods to lure passengers is only further harming the viability of taxis.

On his part, Abu Majid, a private vehicle owner, explained that due to the rising prices and low pensions which no longer cover part of his expenses and the high lease cost, he had decided to look for additional income to foot the bills that sometimes claim his whole pension.

"I did not find a solution except for using my private vehicle as a taxi," said Abu Majid. He said he knew his presence among taxi drivers bothered them and violates their right to protect their livelihood.

However, he claimed he could not buy a taxi due to the difficulty in finding a taxi plate and the high amount of money demanded by insurance companies nowadays. Thus, using his private vehicle was the only option to earn some extra income, he pointed out.

"Omanis do not trust us, but  we can make deals sometimes with the expatriates, especially those with low incomes, for dropping them on a daily basis," said Abu Majid.

He added that he encounters many expatriates who run the same business as they find it easier than him to find passengers.

What distinguishes the private vehicle owners is that they hardly wait for their vehicles to be filled with passengers. This saves them time, as they sometimes go with just one passenger, explained Ali Al Bahri. He added that although it is dangerous to ride in such vehicles, many people use them due to the low cost.

"Ruwi is full of cargo trucks and labourers who charge different prices to pick up goods and transfer these to another place," said Hussain Al Rahbi, a Muttrah resident. He added that it is hard to distinguish legal trucks from illegal ones, where people look only for the cheapest price.

The Royal Oman Police (ROP) told the Times of Oman that they have received several complaints from citizens against using private vehicles for business purposes.

"Most of the complaints are for using private trucks for cargo business," an official source at the
ROP said.

He added the regulations and laws ban such practices and legal action can be taken against
such violators.

The source explained that in most cases, a number of expatriates had been caught for using their vehicles to transfer banned goods such as banned beverages.

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