Orange taxis to be fully revamped

The process of revamping the Orange taxi services has begun, including the installation of electronic fare meters.
All the existing operators will have to meet guidelines laid out by the authorities in the coming months.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications, unveiling its strategy for 2018, said the electronic meters will be activated in all taxis in the coming months.
According to official sources, these changes will not happen at one go in all vehicles. “For existing vehicles, it will be implemented when they come for renewal, while for new operators it will be from the start,” they said.
The fare structure fixed by the government will be calibrated in the meter.
“The process has begun and we hope to see positive results from this year itself.”
Taxi operators said some of the provisions were tough on them but they would abide by the rules.
“We have been reading about the new decisions on What’sApp and are waiting for more clarity. Already services in some commercial centres are managed by a company,” said Mohammed, an operator from a hypermarket in Muscat.
He has still some time for renewal of his vehicle registration. “I will wait for a decision but in the future I think we will have to operate through a company,” he said.
Sulaiman, a pensioner and a taxi operator, said, “We don’t know how to get electronic fare meters and who will pay the price for its installation. It will be difficult to afford one by myself. Already business is down as more people have private vehicles.”
Zahir felt the new system would improve the image of taxi drivers. “We are often blamed for exorbitant charges, especially from tourists. It is unfair. It happens because there are no fixed rates for street taxis till date. Meter fares are good, but it should take into account the increasing operating costs.”
Passengers have welcomed the arrival of metered taxis, but want the fares to be reasonable. “People will accept a reasonable fare. If not, illegal operators will continue to thrive and eat into the business of genuine operators,” Veronica Crasto, an expatriate employee of a retail brand in Bausher, said.
“Now that we have bus options too, taxi drivers should set their house in order to get good business,” she said.
As per the rules, the monthly salary of a taxi operator should not exceed RO 600 if he is a private sector employee.
He should pass a training course at the Institute of Traffic Safety of the Royal Oman Police.
Penalties include a fine of RO 200 for not installing the meter and RO 50 for a taxi kept unclean.
Violations such as the driver failing to hand over belongings forgotten in the vehicle by passengers carry a fine of RO 50.
A fine of RO 200 will be imposed if the meter doesn’t meet the ministry’s specifications.