Observer Online/Vinod Nair
Muscat – The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) said that its recent initiatives were aimed at developing the taxi sector in Oman. A statement from the ministry stressed on the fact that some regulations to organize the sector was inevitable to help improve efficiency, generate more revenues and serve clients better, without hurting the Omanis in the business. MoTC will issue new regulations, including fare meters in white and orange taxis.
Giving points-wise explanations, the statement said that developing the sector has become inevitable, keeping in the mind the technology advancement, an essential aspect of modern lifestyles.
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 the effective organization and doesn’t meet the required security, safety and training standards. This sector does not sue modern technology, thereby falling short of clients’ expectations in terms of quality.
The ministry, occasionally, receives requests from local companies, individuals (expats/Omanis) 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 Oman their concerns must be put into consideration while reorganizing 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 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 release by MoTC. The ministry is reviewing the proposals for installing meters on 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.
It will also generate job opportunities for citizens and the employment of technology such as mobile Apps, instead of moving around and waiting on roadsides in the lookout of for customers.
MoTC said the development of any sector in Oman will not succeed unless the efforts of all to ensure maximum benefit for all.