On-demand taxis cheaper as Marhaba slashes fares

Marhaba, another company apart from Mwasalat that is licensed to operate taxis in Oman, has slashed its fares.
The decision comes close on the heels of Mwasalat announcing the launch of its taxi services that can be booked via a mobile app from anywhere in Muscat. The company, which will launch its services in the second week of December, said it will announce the fares in the coming days. According to the details provided, the basic and minimum fare will start from RO 1.250, after which 190 baisa will be charged for every km for up to 15 km. From 15 km, 100 baisa will be added to every km.

RO 1 will be charged for cancellation of the trip, while a night fee at the rate of 12 per cent will be levied from 11.59 pm up to 5 am. Waiting charges are 50 baisa per minute.
As estimated by the Observer, the approximate fare on Marhaba taxi from Ruwi High Street to Muscat airport will be between RO 3.6 and RO 7.6. It offers payment options of both card and cash.
The company had earlier said it would launch VVIP services with luxury cars and facilities such as WiFi.
Apart from on-demand services, Marhaba is authorised to operate from hotels and the Mina Sultan Qaboos, while Mwasalat will operate from Muscat Airport and commercial centres.
“This service is important as Oman is focusing on attracting tourists from many middle-income nations who may not be able to afford rent-a-car facilities,” said Saleh al Balushi, a tour operator.
“I think if fares are reasonable, tourists will be happy because I have found that even the high-end cruise tourists get upset with the exorbitant taxi fares.”
“The world is moving towards online taxi services like Uber and have been using it even in some neighbouring countries,” said Fatma, a garment entrepreneur in Oman.
“I tried Marhaba services once and it was good, except for the price. I think that will change now.”
The improved taxi services will encourage people use public transport and reduce dependence on private vehicles.
“Hope taxi fares become more affordable,” said Rashdi, a sales executive.
Even at malls and hospitals, the fixed rates are on the higher side and not regulated, according to regu-lar taxi users.

Vinod Nair