Airport, Port and malls off limits to orange taxis

By Staff Reporter — MUSCAT: April 18 – The Ministry of Transport and Communications said that it has taken a few initiatives aimed at developing the taxi sector in Oman, which include specifying the role of the taxis operating under two licensed companies and that of the traditional Orange taxis. The statement stressed on the fact that some regulations to organise the sector were inevitable to help improve efficiency, generate more revenues and serve clients better, without hurting the Omanis in the business. The ministry will issue new regulations, including fare meters in white and orange taxis.

Giving points-wise explanations, the statement from the ministry said that developing the sector has become inevitable, keeping in the mind the technological advancement, an essential aspect of modern lifestyle.

The development of transport infrastructure will help improve the investment climate in related sectors such as tourism. With more tourists coming to Oman, the most essential supporting infrastructure is that of the taxi services. The taxi sector in Oman lacks effective organisation and doesn’t meet the required security, safety and training standards. This sector does not use modern technology, thereby falling short of clients’ expectations in terms of quality. The ministry, occasionally, receives requests from local companies, individuals (Omanis/expatriates) seeking meter facilities in taxis to know the tariff structure.

Currently, there is no official and approved tariff structure. It may be noted as only Omanis operate the business in the Sultanate their concerns must be put into consideration while reorganising this sector. After the approval of the Land Transport Act, the ministry has held multiple discussion sessions for drafting regulations for taxi services. Related authorities and a group of taxi operators were invited to these sessions to receive their opinions. The ministry granted two licenses for operating taxi services, the first one to Mwasalat for operating from Muscat International Airport and shopping malls. The second one issued to Marhaba to operate from hotels and Port Sultan Qaboos. Both companies will also offer on-demand services.

The ministry granted these licenses only for managing the service and do not seek to affect directly the Orange taxi drivers. The two companies will develop the sector by implementing technology, vehicle branding, reservations, training, operational safety and the security of the drivers with these two companies, best offers in vehicle purchase, repairs, vehicle and health insurance. For companies to be able to offer such benefits, they will take a percentage from the revenues of operating the service and agreement with the taxi owner by taking half the revenues from advertisements vehicles. Orange taxis will not be allowed to offer services in the locations assigned to the two companies, also on-demand services unless they are working under them.

The ministry urges all old taxi owners operating near hotels and PSQ to join Marhaba taxi and those operating in airport and malls to join Mwasalat. If they do not desire to join, then the two companies have the right to announce an invitation to join the company to any Omanis owning a taxi car, to help them use their licenses. Taxis not operating in the sector will have to comply with the regulations to be released by the ministry. The ministry is reviewing the proposals for installing meters in all taxis, as seen in a number of GCC and other countries. Taxi sector is one of the promising sectors and without a doubt it will contribute greatly in developing tourism and other related activities.

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