x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

UAE cabbie returns Dh88,500 to passenger

A taxi driver in Abu Dhabi who returned Dh88,500 to its owner was praised for his honesty and rewarded by the passenger and TransAd, the taxi regulator.

“I did not work for it. Why will I take it?” said Nure Alam, an Al Ghazal taxi driver who returned Dh88,500 he found in his taxi in Abu Dhabi. Sammy Dallal / The National
“I did not work for it. Why will I take it?” said Nure Alam, an Al Ghazal taxi driver who returned Dh88,500 he found in his taxi in Abu Dhabi. Sammy Dallal / The National

ABU DHABI // In the five years Nure Alam has driven a taxi, passengers have left behind everything from mobile phones to handbags.

But one afternoon this year he found something that allowed him to prove to the world his honesty and integrity – Dh88,500 in cash.

Mr Alam had picked up his fare, a Somali working for a government company, at the Sofitel Hotel in Abu Dhabi and dropped him at the Millennium Hotel on Khalifa Street about 2pm. The fare was Dh4.50 and the man gave him Dh5.

About an hour later he noticed a white envelope under the passenger seat. The envelope contained two smaller envelopes with Dh500 notes and Dh1,000 notes – a total of Dh88,500.

“I was shaking when I saw all that cash,” said Mr Alam, 40, who works for Al Ghazal Taxi. “But it’s not my money. I did not work for it.”

He immediately called his company to tell them he was dropping off the envelope at Al Shabia police station.

“The police asked me why I didn’t take the money,” said Mr Alam, from Tangail District in central Bangladesh. “I told them, ‘I did not work for it. Why would I take it’?”

The next day, the passenger called TransAD, the taxi regulator, to ask if they had found his money. Mr Alam picked him up again from the Sofitel and took him to the police station.

“He gave me Dh3,000 as a reward,” Mr Alam said with a smile.

His bosses at Al Ghazal also honoured him.

“As a practice, we reward our honest drivers with Dh500,” said Ali Yousef, the franchise taxi manager. “But our general manager and chief executive were both very pleased and decided to give him Dh1,000.”

Mr Yousef said Mr Alam had not been involved in any traffic accidents and the company had not received a single complaint against him.

Mr Alam, a father of three, said he had returned as many as 60 mobile phones and ladies’ handbags.

One of his passengers, an American man, left an iPhone in the back seat. He gave Mr Alam a Dh550 reward for its return.

“He said the phone was not important but the numbers in his phone book were,” the driver said.

On Tuesday, TransAD gave Mr Alam a certificate and Dh1,000 in a ceremony at its headquarters.

“We want him to serve as a good example to all the drivers,” said Khawla Al Dhaheri, head of section at TransAD’s call centre.

“We’ve been rewarding drivers for their honesty for two years now. When we have honest and hard-working drivers, we achieve a high level of customer satisfaction in the delivery of our services.”

Every month, the 18 drivers with the highest response rate to booking requests receive Dh500. The response rate should be above 50 per cent.

“Today, we also honoured 75 taxi drivers with the highest response rates from May until August,” Ms Al Dhaheri said. “Dh500 may not be a lot of money, but it means a lot to the drivers.”

Mr Alam said although he was happy with the reward money and all the recognition, the best compliment came from his daughter Dhola, 9.

“She’s so proud of me,” he said. “She told my friends in Bangladesh ‘My father is a good man, an honest man’.”

rruiz@thenational.ae