It is almost always the same story, narrates Elizabeth Taylor, a British resident in Dubai. “When I arrive in my neighbourhood and I want to take the right lane to turn to my street, I find at least one taxi lined up right before the turn. I suddenly have to swerve to the lane on the left, and from there squeeze my way into the street of my building. It is very hazardous.”
Elizabeth describes a situation taking place in Tecom, where taxis have found a taxi lane in what is actually an exit lane, leaving little room for road users to take the exit. “They consider this the ideal spot to pick up customers, and actually customers seem to agree, flagging down the taxis from the side of this road. They do not realise that they are putting other road users in danger,” said an upset Elizabeth.
The situation is not limited to the location. All over town, similar incidents take place. Major attractions often have a taxi line-up, without a dedicated taxi lane. Such is the case in front of Irish Village, said Shanta Roy, an Indian resident with 15 years of experience on the roads of Dubai.
“It is a two-way road with only two lanes. Yet, taxis line up in front of the pub, blocking the only lane in that direction. It happened more than once that I suddenly had to swerve to the lane in the opposite direction, and once this almost caused an accident.”
Around the Mall of the Emirates, dozens of cabbies seem to have agreed that the right lane is theirs. When driving around the mall in an attempt to enter the mall parking lot, visitors find out that the right lane is practically unavailable, as taxis pop up every other couple of meters.
Bur Dubai is disastrous too, says Shanta. “Especially around Mina Bazaar. Traffic is already chaotic as there is a lot of cargo traffic on these roads. On top of that taxis stop whenever and wherever in order to pick up customers. They even take time to negotiate the trip, which makes the stop even longer.”
According to the Road and Transport Authority (RTA), the taxi driver is permitted to make a stop on the way to pick up passengers only if it is safe to do so. “The stop should not obstruct traffic and should not endanger road users,” said Tariq al Gaith, Acting Director of the Public Transport Agency at the RTA.
When a violation of this rule is observed, the taxi driver can be penalised with hefty fines, being a Dh300 fine in the first instance, a Dh600 after a second violation and Dh900 after a third. Per violation of this kind, the driver will gain 4 black points. Furthermore, 6 times of committing the same violation enables the PTA to consider the termination of the driver.
According to Al Gaith, there are several stops available in Dubai to obtain a taxi to ensure the safety and security of all passengers and traffic users, such as dedicated taxi stops, taxi lines as well as public transport bus stops.
However, in order to improve safety on the road, users are encouraged to inform the RTA when situations like these take place, by dialing 8009090. Whenever a complaint is submitted, it will be followed up within 7 days. In some cases, the complaint may result in action taken to resolve the situation.