Sharjah cabbies driving clients round the bend

When Carry Caspers, a UK resident of Dubai decided to go to the neighbouring emirate of Sharjah, she planned to rely on the road knowledge of the cabbies there.

“I took a cab from the Dubai-Sharjah cross point. I was hoping to just tell the driver where I had to go and then relax. And when the driver nodded, I assumed he would drop me at my destination. But alas! He only drove to the nearby area and announced, ‘From here I do not know how to go further’.”
Carry had to switch taxis, while she was in fact only one street away from her destination. “Another Dh10 gone for a distance that was supposed to add just Dh3,” she says.
Complaints about cabbies are not uncommon. In the first half of this year 5,172 tickets against taxi-drivers had been counted. This is however an anticipated decrease compared to the year-to-year 18,000 tickets in 2010 and 20,000 in 2009.
“We play a vital role in educating drivers before recruitment as well as after they make a violation by subjecting them to training courses and by making them aware about the traffic regulations adopted by our department,” says Faisal Al Mahmood, head of the Monitoring Section and Quality Service at Sharjah Transport Corporation (STC).
Common complaints about cabbies are abrupt stopping on the road, non-compliance with the traffic rules and blocking traffic on the road, according to STC.
“That does happen a lot,” says Riad Obeyd, a Syrian living in Sharjah. “Taxi-drivers stop on the middle of the road all the time! They stop to pick up a customer or drop somebody off, and they think they are completely in their right to do so. It is very disturbing and very dangerous.”
“We have inspectors on the road who monitor drivers. When they observe a violation the driver is first penalized according to regulations. Then they look at the record of the driver, and if the violation was carried out repeatedly we subject the driver to re-training,” says Faisal.
In the first half of 2012, 613 drivers were subjected to six training courses. The courses were themed ‘the responsibility of the driver’, ‘how to deal with the customer’, ‘rules and safety on the road’, ‘first aid’, avoidance of violations and care for the vehicle, explains Abdullah Zamzam, head of Customer Service Section at STC.
Furthermore drivers are subjected to a black-point system. “When the driver exceeds 24 black points he will be suspended and terminated,” explains Faisal. “We are very keen on raising awareness among our drivers and providing training, and it is a part of our strategic plan to improve the driving of our taxi-drivers, improve customer satisfaction and reply to customer complaints.”
According to Abdullah every complaint is dealt with within 48 hours by contacting the person who made the complaint and investigating what the reason of the complaint is. The complaint will then be investigated and the drivers’ record will be reviewed, upon which proper action follows.
Customers can file a complaint against any driver or situation on the road by dialing the toll-free number 700 067 000 or the customer support number 600 545 455 and by describing the colour of the vehicle and the uniform of the driver.
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