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Taxi firm is still 708 cars short of target

Four months after the deadline for each company to have 1,021 taxis, Q Link Transport has only 313.

ABU DHABI // One of the capital's seven taxi companies is about 700 vehicles short of a January target set by the Government, the sector's regulator says. Four months after the deadline for each company to have 1,021 taxis, Q Link Transport has only 313, according to TransAD. TransAD said it was monitoring the issue but had not decided what steps to take. In January, it said it would fine taxi companies Dh1,000 (US$270) a month for each taxi by which they were short of the target.

Q Link was also late in renewing vehicle registrations for its existing cabs, said Mohammed al Hosani, manager of regulation and licensing for TransAD. "For the public, this is not good," Mr al Hosani said. "If you are in a car and you know it has expired, what do you say?" Q Link declined to comment. Although Abu Dhabi Police recently granted a six-week reprieve to all motorists to renew overdue registrations, allowing them until June 1, TransAD said it would not allow taxis to operate without being registered.

"We are not tolerating this," Mr al Hosani said. As of Thursday afternoon, about 100 vehicles had been inspected by TransAD and granted the "No Objection" letter required to register them, he said. Under an agreement with the regulator when franchise licences were awarded in 2007, each company was to have 1,021 cabs registered by January 1. The deadline was extended to March for three companies, with potential fines backdated to January 1.

Some Q Link drivers say they stopped driving last month out of fear that TransAD inspectors would fine them for not having a valid registration. Mr al Hosani said such fines would have to be paid by the company, with a first offence carrying a price tag of Dh500 and a second Dh1,0000. Drivers said vehicle registration renewals were in progress. The franchisees rushed to meet the deadline late last year and the capital saw the number of silver taxis surge from 4,200 in early November to 5,400 at the end of the year, making it much easier for customers to catch cabs. @Email:mchung@thenational.ae

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