x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai taxi drivers complain at cost of safety course

Taxi drivers in Dubai have complained about having to pay Dh800 for a new compulsory three-day training course aimed at improving safety and customer service.

Taxi drivers in Dubai are angry at being charged Dh800 for a three-day training course that will also cost them through loss of earnings. Jaime Puebla / The National
Taxi drivers in Dubai are angry at being charged Dh800 for a three-day training course that will also cost them through loss of earnings. Jaime Puebla / The National

DUBAI // Taxi drivers in Dubai have been ordered to sign up for a new training course, pay the Dh800 fee themselves and lose three days’ earnings while taking part.

The course, run by the Roads and Transport Authority, is intended to improve efficiency, safety and customer services.

The RTA charges the Dh800 fee to the taxi franchise companies. The companies say they already lose Dh850 a day in fares for every driver who is off the road taking the course, and has told cabbies the fee will be deducted from their earnings.

Taxi drivers have no monthly salary. They are paid a commission calculated as a percentage of the amount they take in fares.

“There was a notice in our company saying the training will teach us to behave with customers and to be safe on roads,” said a Pakistani driver from Arabia Taxi who earns between Dh3,500 and Dh3,700 a month. “And that we will have to pay Dh800.

“The training is not necessary for experienced drivers. And even if it is, why charge us?

“We work 12 hours a day, seven days a week to earn this: Dh800 is a lot of money.”

Another Pakistani driver, from Cars Taxi, said: “I have been driving a taxi for the past seven years. I know how to drive. Why do I need training?”

“They will tell us to drive slowly and carefully. We already know this. We are usually given a month’s training when we start the job,” the driver said.

“We have no fixed salary, no gratuity or tickets to go home. It is not right to take our hard-earned money.”

The RTA said the course was aimed at improving services. “The focus is on mapping and location, using meters, a simulator to test their ability to avoid accidents and techniques of customer services,” said Mohammed Janahi, director of the drivers’ affairs department.

“We charge the franchise companies and our cost of training is still the cheapest … around the world. Fees have been determined after careful studies.”

Mr Janahi said the classes would be a refresher course for existing drivers and would be repeated every two years.

Batches of 84 drivers and 145 new recruits take the course, with a test at the end. Drivers who fail have to pay Dh50 to resit.

Taxi companies have asked the RTA to limit the course to drivers with a bad record, and halve the fee.

“We are asking them to reconsider these charges,” said Abdul Razaq, general manager of Cars Taxi. “We have told them the training shouldn’t be compulsory but should be based on a driver’s record of accidents and complaints. They have to clarify who needs retraining.”

Mr Razaq would not explain why his company was passing on the cost to drivers.

“The company is also losing around Dh850 a day in fares. And if it is three days, we lose millions. We have asked them to charge 50 per cent less. We are still waiting for response. We will decide who will bear the cost based on the RTA’s decision.”

pkannan@thenational.ae