x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ties no longer mandatory for Dubai cabbies amid safety concerns

The decision was made by the RTA after a driver was attacked by someone who pulled his tie - but no specific incident was stated.

Taxi drivers in Dubai had raised concerns about being obliged to wearing neckties as part of their uniform following reports that they had been used to tie up or harm colleagues during attacks. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Taxi drivers in Dubai had raised concerns about being obliged to wearing neckties as part of their uniform following reports that they had been used to tie up or harm colleagues during attacks. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI // Taxi drivers in Dubai are no longer required to wear ties, after the transport agency changed its rules.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said it was now up to the driver whether he wants to wear a tie, which until now has been a compulsory part of their uniform.

The decision was made after a driver was attacked by someone who pulled his tie.

“Neckties were a part of taxi drivers’ uniform since the inception of RTA in 2005,” said Ayman Walid Al Nabhan, RTA’s director of franchise and enforcement at the Public Transport Agency.

“There is no specific ruling to ban drivers from wearing ties when performing their duties. It is a personal choice. However, a majority of the drivers are not wearing the neckties now.

“One of the reasons for dropping the necktie as part of the taxi-drivers’ uniform is because of that incident.”

Mr Al Nabhan did not specify which particular incident he was referring to.

In 2011 Mohammed Enamulhaq, 28, a Bangladeshi driver with Tawasul Taxi Company, was stabbed to death. His seat belt had been wrapped around his neck and his hands were bound with the tie from his company uniform.

Several drivers subsequently refused to wear a tie, saying that it could be used to strangle them.

Taxi drivers said they were happy to be given the choice.

“Ties make us look respectable and give us a formal look,” said Kumar, who gave only his last name. “But, is not always safe. Passengers could use them to attack us.

‘I heard a customer strangled a driver in another emirate using his tie. That is why am afraid to wear ties.”

Wahid Hussain, a cabbie from Dubai, agreed. “It is a big headache to wear a tie,” he said. “Every time I had to pray, I had to remove it and wear it again. It’s tough when you have to pray five times a day.

“Besides, it was proving to be dangerous. Once a customer caught my tie when we got into an argument.

“We are at most risk when we pick up passengers at night. They usually sit behind us. If someone catches my tie from behind, what do I do? If it puts our lives at risk, what is the point?”

Mr Hussain said the decision should be implemented across the UAE so that all drivers are safer.

Drivers in other emirates have to wear a tie or face a fine.

In Abu Dhabi, a cabbie caught not wearing a tie can be fined Dh200 for the first offence, rising to Dh500 for a third offence.

“We all have to wear a tie otherwise we could be penalised by TransAd,” said Abdul Salam, a driver in Abu Dhabi.

“I am not scared to wear one but what is the point of it? Why do we need ties as taxi drivers? We are wearing them just for show.”

Aby, another Abu Dhabi driver who did not want to give his last name, said that given a choice, he would not wear a tie.

“It’s really a pain in the neck when you have to wear it at all times,” he said.

pkannan@thenational.ae