AJMAN //Careless driving, abrupt stopping and sudden lane changes are causing an increasing number of passengers to make official complaints against taxi drivers in Sharjah and Ajman.
"We are increasing traffic patrols on the roads and urge them to look out for taxi drivers committing those violations," said Lt Col Shoaib Kajol, the director of the traffic department at Ajman Police.
"Once a driver is seen committing an offence, he is not just fined but also counselled so as not to repeat it."
Poor treatment of elderly passengers and overcharging were some offences the Ajman Transport Corporation (ATC) has had reported, said Abdul Karim Al Abdooli, the director general of ATC.
"It is not allowed to quarrel with a passenger even if a driver thinks he is right," Mr Al Abdooli said.
"We have on several occasions given them ethics training and urged them to help the elderly or people with luggage, but many still don't care."
ATC's team of inspectors randomly check on drivers. There are 45 offences for which they can punish an employee, including having an unwashed car or unkempt uniform.
A committee investigates customer complaints, Mr Al Abdooli said.
But drivers said higher operating costs meant they had to rush and occasionally even break traffic laws to ensure they made a profit each day.
"The problem is with restrictions of taking passengers from other emirates," said Hussaini Mohammed, a driver with Union Taxi.
"It's not fair for me to take a passenger to Dubai in the evening and spend another one hour in traffic returning back to Sharjah.
"I am responsible for the taxi fuel now and have a target income to meet for the company every day. Wasting time is not my business."
Mr Al Abdooli said all taxi drivers in the emirate must undergo training on ethics and good behaviour. After training, a driver must pass a test on important addresses and government buildings before being given a work permit.
All drivers are younger than 50 and have a working knowledge of English and Arabic, he said.
The main complaint in Sharjah was drivers asking passengers where they were going, then deciding whether to allow them into the taxi.
"We can not all stay in fine places or in places that have no traffic congestion," said Samma Abbas, 35, a Pakistani resident.
"It annoys me most if a taxi stops and then leaves me just because am going to Rolla in the evening."
Passengers said it was difficult to get a taxi to pick them up in the industrial areas, especially at night. Drivers are also reluctant to travel to other emirates in rush hours.
The Sharjah Transport Corporation also has inspectors checking its drivers, a spokesman said.
"We have a toll free number, 700 067 000, written on every taxi, where commuters can register their complaints against drivers and have our team investigating them," the spokesman said.
"The 24-hour toll-free number also receives suggestions and compliments on good drivers."
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