x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Abu Dhabi taxi firm Q Link to close in February

Parent company says transport is no longer key sector in its strategy as drivers’ future remains uncertain.

Cars belonging to Q Link are parked outside a compound in Khalifa City B in Abu Dhabi where the company's drivers live. Q Link's parent company has said the taxi operator is to be closed down.
Cars belonging to Q Link are parked outside a compound in Khalifa City B in Abu Dhabi where the company's drivers live. Q Link's parent company has said the taxi operator is to be closed down.

ABU DHABI // Q Link, one of seven TransAD taxi franchises, plans to close by February, saying it had made a "strategic decision" to halt operations.

In a statement released on Monday by Al Qudra Holding, Q Link’s parent, the company said it would be scaling down its operations in the coming months, leading to its full closure.

“Upon careful re-assessment of the company’s grand overall investment strategy, Al Qudra’s board has concluded that transportation does not represent a key sector in the company’s investment strategy in the current market environment,” the statement said.

Alawi Dares, the TransAD communication officer, said the company had not been operating the number of taxis required in the operating licence. “Q Link was unable to reach the basic requirement as an operator in the transport sector,” he said.

TransAD requirements state that a taxi company must maintain a vehicle count of 1,021 to remain operational. The company has been struggling to meet the quota since May, when it was reported that Q Link had reached only 313 vehicles.

According to Mr Dares, Q Link currently has 193 taxis, of which 44 per cent are no longer active.

Jameela al Hameri, TransAD’s customer service director, said Q Link is responsible for deciding what will happen to their drivers and vehicles. A spokesman with Al Qudra Holdings, Q Link’s parent company, said all drivers are active and being paid.

“Just like any other taxi company, there will always be cars that need maintenance, and we are in the process of fixing them,” the spokesman said, explaining the lack of taxis on the street. Al Qudra Holding declined to elaborate further on the matter.

Drivers said they fear they may lose out on months of salary that they have not been paid, with no vehicles to operate, adding that their passports are also being held by the company. Some claim the company has refused to provide a No Objection Certificate to cancel visas unless drivers themselves pay a Dh7,000 cancellation fee.

The spokesman with Al Qudra holding, Q Link’s parent company, said the claims were unfounded.

“Q Link abides by all laws and regulations set by the Ministry of Labour,” he said. “It has always done so and will continue to do so.”

Regarding the issue of passports, the spokesman said employees voluntarily left their passports with the company. “Due to the nature of their accommodation and their jobs, the company offers drivers an option to leave their passports with it for safekeeping. However, this is done as per their request and the passports are accessible at all times.”

The Ministry of Labour said it had not received any registered complaints from Q Link drivers. Qassim Mohammed al Jameel, the head of labour relations at the Ministry of Labour, said that when a company closed, employers were required to pay workers either three months’ salary or the length as stated in the contract signed by the employee.

The company would also be responsible for cancelling work visas and ensuring all employee rights are met, such as leave payment and gratuity. “The financial repercussions for a company that violates these regulations are far worse than if it grants workers their rights,” he said.

mismail@thenational.ae