Much has been said and written about the Dubai taxi. This is my attempt to uncover the other side of the story. These are my personal observations over the last 8 months. So here goes:
1. A taxi driver has daily targets varying from Dh 300 to Dh 400 per day. This varies between different taxi companies. Their fixed salary is on an average Dh 1800 per month. On attaining their targets, they get commissions (avg. around Dh 1000 per month)
2. They work 12 hr shifts usually starting anytime between 4 and 8 AM and vice versa. A couple of taxi companies have 24 hr shifts.
3. Different colors of the car roof top denote different taxi companies. Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Blue etc. Red is owned by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad.
4. Taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers from bus stands except the Red ones. If they do, they are fined Dh 500. The shocking part is when there are too many passengers waiting; the RTA officer wants them to pick those passengers!
5. Some of them have to pay for their own fuel – usually Dh. 25-30 per day.
6. These guys drive close to 400-500 km each day within their 12 hrs.
7. They don’t have a designated lunch time or a rest time. If the RTA finds a taxi driver not accepting passengers because he is having lunch or resting, they are fined. Yes!
8. Some companies provide accommodation, food and annual vacation while others provide none and vacation is bi-annual. And if they report late for work from their vacation, they are not given keys for the taxi. They are at times called to office every morning and made to sit there till close of business and then asked to come back again the next day. This happens for 2-3 weeks before the keys are handed over. Some punishment, huh!
9. Once a driver completes his shift, he is supposed to go to the company, deposit the collections, get the car washed & pick up his partner driver. The partner then drops the 1st driver to his residence, visits the company again and logs in his attendance. And that is when his shift starts. This whole exercise takes close to 3 hrs. So for instance, if driver 1 completes his shift at 3pm, it is only by 6pm that driver 2 is ready to take passengers. That particular taxi does not accept any customers between 3 to 6pm. SO there must be hundreds of such taxis which are not doing business for 2-3 hrs daily, which sometimes are rush hours, just to change shifts – explains why there aren’t taxis on the road when we need them the most!
10. If they are involved in an accident where the driver is at fault, they are supposed to pay 10% of their car’s cost which amounts to almost Dh 8000.
11. If they don’t hit their target for the day, their commission takes a negative cut.
They toil around all day in traffic that we dread the most, sometimes hungry and not rested, working graveyard shifts, sitting at one place, working on minimal wages, away from their families for many months at a stretch, under the ever-so-prowling eyes of the RTA, with traffic laws getting stricter by the day!
Would you like to work this way? If yes, great! Next time a driver annoys you, do as you wish. But if it is a No, then spare a thought for these guys. Next time, before you curse them or blame them, think twice! I am not taking sides. Just bringing out their side of the story.