ABU DHABI, Aug 4: With the great majority of Abu Dhabi residents dependent on taxis in the absence of full-fledged public transport facilities, taxi drivers have been driving a hard bargain. Customers are being taken for a ride during peak hours and late in the evening, but the cabbies are never short of a justification.
With shooting oil prices more or less governing rates of essential commodities, taxi drivers have compounded the ordinary citizen's woes.
Hameed, a taxi driver, told Khaleej Times that tariff rates had been stagnating since 1980.
The police preventing cabbies from picking up passengers from the airport back to town was another rule that could do with a change, he said, adding that petrol prices hovering in the region of Dh6.25 to the gallon were not making things any easier for his ilk.
Khalid Khan, another cabbie, said, "I pay a monthly rent of about Dh1,500 for my car in addition to petrol and repair charges. I must also send money to my family besides accounting for my personal expenses. I end up not having money to pay for an air ticket back home."
People at the receiving end of these cabbies have an altogether different view of things. Christina Durres said the drivers were just too fast and aggressive and never thought twice about cheating the passenger. Some of them even went as far as making advances, she said.
Christina recalled one instance when a driver remarked, "No, just take my phone number" as she was trying to pay the fare.
Another person who wished not to be identified related his experience trying to flag down a taxi in front of a hotel at 1.00 am. The first driver refused to take him saying that he was waiting for someone else and two others insisted on Dh10 for a trip that would normally not cost Dh3.
A traffic police official said that, in such cases, people could always report to the police, whereupon the errant drivers would be forced to accept the correct fare and penalised in case of repeat offences. The police have also intensified patrols to crack down on offenders.