Mowasalat CEO Khalid al-Hail, fourth from right, director (strategy) Nasser al-Khanji, third from right, director (limousine) Abdulla Ali Bahzad, fourth from left, with Abdulla Sultan al-Sabbagh and Saad Mohamed al-Ahbabi at the announcement of the Mowasalat’s new taxi franchisees. Also seen are Ibn Ajayan managing director Joseph Mathias, extreme left, and Profit Trading group director P Balasubramanium, extreme right. PICTURE: Jayaram

By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter

Qatar will have at least 4,000 taxis in service by the end of this year from the nearly 3,000 now when two new franchisees launch 500 taxis each, Mowasalat chief executive officer Khalid al-Hail announced yesterday.
“Ibn Ajayan Trading Group and Profit Trading & Contracting Company are the two new Karwa franchisees,” said al-Hail.
The roofs of the new taxis will be painted in colours different from the two existing Karwa franchisees, Al Million and Al Ijarah.
Mowasalat is committed to improve the country’s taxi sector and the decision to allow two more franchisees is one of the initiatives aimed at easing the public’s travel woes, officials said.
The announcement was made on the occasion of Mowasalat entering its 10th year of operations.
Profit Trading’s group director P Balasubramaniam said his company would choose either green or yellow as the roof colour of their taxis. The company is yet to name its taxi service.
Profit Trading’s transportation adviser Abdulla Sultan al-Sabbagh, who is also the executive director of the Dubai-based Cars Taxi, said his company had extensive operations in the UAE’s taxi sector and operated about 5,000 taxis. The company also has taxi operations in Mumbai, India, where its vehicles bear the name Star Taxis.
Profit Trading is planning to launch its taxis on Doha roads before May 31, Balasubramaniam added.
Ibn Ajayan Trading Group, distributors of Skoda cars and India’s Ashok Leyland buses in Qatar, is expected to launch the first batch of their taxis sometime in August-September, according to company chairman Saad Mohamed al-Ahbabi.
Nasser al-Khanji, government transport solutions provider and regulator’s director (strategy), who was present at the announcement of the new franchisees,  pointed out that Karwa taxis which started operations in October 2004 with a fleet of about 600 cars, diversified the cab operations through its franchise programme in 2012 by selecting Al Million and Al Ijarah.
While lauding the support extended to the expansion of the taxi sector by HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti, who is also the Mowasalat chairman, al-Hail said the company was looking forward to diverse operations in the transport sector in coming years as there was a great need to strengthen the country’s public transport
“This is necessary as there has been a huge rise in the country’s population in the last few years.”
Mowasalat’s public transport buses are operating on 39 routes during weekdays and 41 routes on weekends. The buses, which have more than 1,000 schedules daily, are  operating for 19 hours.
Mowasalat is also operating close to 2,000 buses for ferrying school children, with another 700 buses scheduled to be added to the fleet by the end of this year.
“The company also launched more than 65 CNG-run buses last year in support the country’s ambitious plans to promote a healthy environment,” al-Hail added.
Meanwhile,  Mowasalat  has started operations of its buses to the Sealine beach in Mesaieed on an experimental basis. The buses, run only on Fridays, ply from Mesaieed’s main market area every hour.
The seasonal service will be operated only until March last week, beyond which the weather becomes hot and unsuitable for visits to the area, which attracts visitors from October to March.
When asked about the company’s plans to expand the public transport operations, an official said that Mowasalat was looking for mandatory clearance from the departments concerned to add more routes to its network.
The official noted that earlier this month the company had launched 14 buses in the West Bay area in association with the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Municipalities and Urban Planning.

Mowasalat IPO ‘next year’

Mowasalat is working out plans to float its Initial Public Offer (IPO) sometime next year, said the public transport company’s director (strategy), Nasser al-Khanji. “Though it is too early to speak about the dates of the IPO, it could be launched either next year or the year after,”  al-Khanji said yesterday. The Cabinet has already approved the IPO. The official said that both Mowasalat and Karwa would remain as a single entity and “there is absolutely no confusion whatsoever on the issue”.

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