ABU DHABI // The drivers of more than 340 unlicensed minibuses have been fined over the past year.
Since the beginning of May last year, 346 vehicles were stopped and found to be illegally transporting passengers to areas off Abu Dhabi Island, including Shahamah, Al Shamkha and Baniyas.
Each driver was fined Dh5,000 by Abu Dhabi’s traffic department.
A frequent user of the buses, Ahmed Mahmoud, told The National’s Arabic-language sister paper, Al Ittihad, that the vehicles were popular among low-income workers because they were cheaper and faster than official bus services.
Mr Mahmoud said taking the buses had saved him a lot of money. A taxi journey to and from his home in Baniyas to Abu Dhabi would cost Dh120 but the minibus costs only Dh10.
Alaa Abdelfattah, who works in Mussaffah, said that if his car broke down he had two options to travel to work – either wait up to 45 minutes for a public bus, which takes another 45 minutes to get to his destination, or spend Dh70 or more on a silver taxi. He said official buses did not serve all areas and that low-income workers could not afford taxis.
Authorities should plug the gap by providing licensed minibuses to cover such routes for “reasonable” fares of between Dh10 and Dh15, he added.
Abu Dhabi Police’s traffic directorate and TransAD are warning the public about the dangers of unlicensed transport.
Maj Hamad Al Shamsi said the police were clamping down on unauthorised cabs on motorways and city roads. Operating an illegal taxi carries a penalty of up to Dh5,000.