There are enough taxis on roads these days but the city residents are furious that drivers continue to turn down their requests for short distance journeys.

By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter

Even while the country’s taxi cabs claim lack of patronage from customers in many locations, mainly in and around Doha and its immediate neighbourhood, there are reports of the drivers refusing to pick customers wishing to use their services for short-distance travels.
While customers have been repeatedly airing their grievances about the unwillingness (or indifference) of Karwa drivers to ferrying them for short journeys, the latter seem to get away with their refusal.
Now a days the customers are also reporting that many drivers deliberately either switch off the fare meters before the journey or just refuse to switch it on and end up quite too often with unsavoury arguments and heated exchanges with their “preys”.
One of the passengers, a woman, told this newspaper that on some occasions in recent weeks she happened to travel in taxis which plied without switching on their fare meters and she had to pick up arguments with the drivers over fare.
“While a journey from Souq Waqif to Najma area is certainly within Karwa’s minimum fares (the company says one could travel upto 5.5 km or so for its minimum fare of QR10), many drivers operating from the Souq these days are simply refusing to ferry passengers for the minimum fare, insisting that they are always caught in traffic blocks and lose considerable time,” she said adding that the unofficial minimum fare on the route for many drivers now a days is QR15.
When quizzed some of the drivers attributed the situation to their contract with the company under which they need to pay QR265/duty of 10 hours, for “hiring” the vehicle.
Even though the woman said she had lodged complaint about some of the erring drivers, and the operators agreed to follow it up, nothing was heard afterwards.
Another customer said while a journey from his house to City Center Doha could come anywhere between QR22 and QR24, some drivers operating without fare meters these days ask for QR30 as their`fixed’ minimum.
Surprisingly stickers that prominently proclaimed  “free travel to passenger if the meter is not switched on”, which used to be seen both outside and inside many vehicles is missing these days.
Generally customers feel the company vehicles could improve their services if it does away with the daily contract system of their drivers and ensure them a minimum maintenance allowance besides commissions based on a point-system as is being done by some private operators in other parts of the region.
While many customers agreed that there is a significant improvement in the availability of taxis in most city areas, (except for the peak hours in the mornings) after the arrival of two more operators in the last eight months, customers are furious that many Karwa drivers continue to turn down short distance travellers for reasons better known to themselves.
When contacted a Mowasalat official recently said the company was consistently attending to the complaints that they received from the public about their taxis and actions are initiated at intervals depending on the merit of the complaints. However it is not known if the errant drivers have ever made any significant improvement in their dealings with the customers after action from the company.
Inquiries with the customers found they have virtually no complaints about the two other operators and are generally happy with the services that they provide. “Even though some of the drivers of one of the two companies appear to be impatient on their arrival to collect passengers who made booking through their call centre I have absolutely no grievances against their drivers,” said a regular customer.

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