x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai taxi drivers reap rewards for clean cabs

Taxi drivers in Dubai who pass inspections can earn entry into a raffle with cash prizes.

Yousif Mohammed Al Ali, CEO of Dubai Taxi Corporation, checks out the interior of a taxi at Dubai airport.
Yousif Mohammed Al Ali, CEO of Dubai Taxi Corporation, checks out the interior of a taxi at Dubai airport.

DUBAI // Taxi drivers once dreaded inspections and the risk of fines – but many now look forward to the prospect thanks to a new reward system.

Those who pass are entered into a monthly raffle draw to win Dh3,000, Dh2,500 and Dh2,000 in cash prizes.

The system has been in effect for the past two months at Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC).

“This incentive programme has been implemented to encourage our drivers to go beyond being just satisfactory,” said Dr Yousif Mohammed Al Ali, chief executive of DTC. “Before, all the inspections did was punish, and this really affected morale negatively.

“Now there is a chance for reward as well, and already we’ve seen an improvement in the drivers’ attitudes.”

Everyone from supervisors to management can award the drivers raffle coupons.

“It goes all the way up to the executives, including myself, who have the authority to award these coupons,” Dr Al Ali said. “We award them to the drivers we feel have exceeded our expectations.”

Dr Al Ali said they awarded between 300 and 400 vouchers a month.

“The drivers place the coupons in a box back at the Dubai Taxi HQ. At the end of each month there is a raffle,” said Dr Al Ali.

Dipin Chand Balachandra, 26, who drives one of the new Lexus VIP taxis, was among the drivers awarded a voucher by Dr Al Ali during last week’s Public Transport Day.

“I’m the first of my friends to receive one of these ‘thank you’ coupons,” Mr Balachandra said, waving his voucher. “I’m very happy, I hope I can win in the raffle.

“This is a very good idea. Before, everyone was scared of inspection. All they used to do was give out fines. Now, if we see an inspector we will try to get his attention, so maybe we can get a coupon.”

Mr Balachandra, from Chennai, has been driving for DTC for five years and was only recently transferred to the VIP fleet.

“I love this car, it’s so much better than my last taxi,” he said, wiping down the sleek, black sedan. “People used to honk at me all the time when I was driving that taxi.

“Now I hardly ever get honked at. I get a bit more respect on the road.”

Mr Balachandra, from Chennai, has also traded in his beige uniform for a chauffeur’s hat and a black suit and tie.
“I like the way I look in this uniform,” he said. “It’s very smart. Even the hat is nice.”

If he wins the raffle, he will send the money home to his mother.

“But first I’ll take my friends out for dinner,” he said, smiling.

DTC will soon launch a “book a driver” service, which allows residents to hire a chauffeur for their vehicle for a specified amount of time.

“The driver will be plain clothed, but dressed smart casual. The cost will be Dh40 per hour for a minimum of two hours or Dh3,500 per month for 12 hours a day,” Dr Al Ali said.

Customers must meet a list of requirements before they can book a driver, and DTC is currently finalising the criteria.

“One of the requirements is that the vehicle must have full-coverage insurance,” Dr Al Ali said.

malkhan@thenational.ae