Taxi meters mandate drawing near

Updated 27 August 2013

Taxi meters mandate drawing near

Metered taxi service is expected to be implemented this week in an effort to curb overcharging passengers and provide a uniform tariff system, according to the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).
The move to metering fares stems from the Ministry of Transportation’s mandatory ruling that requires taxi drivers across the country to operate a system that is fairer to passengers.
“Ministry of Transportation’s decision was meant to curb overcharging of taxi fares,” said Abdullah Al-Qahtani, deputy chairman of the Public Fares Committee of JCCI. “The regulation will be applied in the two upcoming days.”
Al-Qahtani said the JCCI will conduct a series of forums and business meetings to determine how to develop a mechanism.
“The discussions will also cover how this system will guarantee everyone’s fair share in the new process, while it is being followed almost all over the world,” Al-Qahtani said.
Many taxis in the Kingdom already have meters installed. However, the electronic devices are often disabled, broken or the cab driver refuses to use it. Most passengers bargain with drivers for the fare. While not specifically a policy, a standard fare for many trips in central Jeddah is SR20. But fares for even a short trip could reach as much as SR40 if traffic is congested.
A SR20 fare may be a thing of the past. A metered taxi may have a flag down rate of SR5 before the meter starts counting. The potential for higher rates for a metered taxi is far greater than amounts charged based on traditional bargaining.
Abdullah Sa’ad, owner of a local taxi company, told Arab News the new fare structure could benefit taxi drivers who work on a slim profit margin.
“Taxi company owners insist their employees deliver a certain daily amount. The cabbies income is the amount left after deduction of the owner's daily amount and fuel cost from the fare earned during the day,” Sa’ad said.
He noted: “This amount usually is satisfactory to some of our employees. Some work hard to get more customers. Sometimes we reschedule the amount payable to the employer, especially during summer holidays when the market tends to be in general slowdown.”
Taxi driver Ali Al-Muraisi said the Ministry of Transport’s decision to enforce meters is in the best interest of drivers.
“It will guarantee a steady and additional income for us,” Al-Muraisi said. “Companies oblige drivers to achieve a daily target with the excess paid to the driver.”
Ethiopian taxi driver Taha Saeed agreed. He said mandatory meters would minimize exploiting female passengers dependent on drivers. Yet Saeed had doubts whether the Transportation Ministry’s ruling will actually come to fruition.
“I’ve been hearing about this decision for two years now, and I hope it is implemented soon,” Saeed said. “I wonder when the new system will be implemented and what would be the status of old cars.”
Aysha Ahmad, a private sector employee, said the decision would be good for taxis, but not passengers because they can log extra miles to pad fares. “They can take longer routes not to mention congested ones,” Ahmad said.

KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Updated 25 April 2019

KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

  • Al-Rabeeah: We have no hidden agenda in Syria and we work through international organizations

BEIRUT: The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, signed on Wednesday seven agreements with Beirut and international and civil organizations operating in Lebanon to implement relief projects targeting Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as the most affected host communities in Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who participated in the symposium at the Four Seasons Hotel Beirut to sign the agreements, praised the strong Saudi-Lebanese relations, which have existed for decades, and stressed Lebanon’s keenness to ensure their permanence and development.

He said: “The meetings Al-Rabeeah has held with different Lebanese political and religious authorities over the past two days during his visit to Lebanon, under the guidance of King Salman, indicate the Saudi leadership’s true desire to deepen the fraternal ties with the Lebanese, support Lebanon’s unity, independence, sovereignty and coexistence formula, and protect its existence from the repercussions of all the fires, crises and interventions that plague many countries.”

During the symposium, which was attended by a large group of political, religious and social figures, Al-Rabeeah called on the international donor community to shoulder more responsibility.

Addressing the implementing bodies, he said: “It is time to reconsider your working mechanisms in order to develop them and improve procedures to avoid negative impacts.”

“What I mean by reconsidering working processes is that there is a need to work professionally and skillfully because there are not many resources, and we must eliminate bureaucracy and speedily make the most of resources,” Al-Rabeeah told Arab News.

He stressed the importance of developing a close partnership between the donor and the implementer of projects, highlighting that KSRelief’s work is subject to international and regional oversight mechanisms as well as its own internal control mechanisms.

“We have two strategic partners, and when agreements are signed with the recipients of assistance, this means accepting oversight terms,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah said: “Saudi Arabia supports the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country, and so is the case for Yemen.”

“Saudi Arabia has supported peaceful dialogues, which restore security and stability,” he said. “In order for this to happen in Syria, we support the efforts of the United Nations and implement (as KSRelief) relief programs inside Syria. We also have major programs and we count on the UN to ensure a safe return for Syrian refugees.”

On the Syrian regions in which KSRelief is implementing its programs and the difficulties faced, Al-Rabeeah told Arab News: “We have nothing to do with military or religious matters, and wherever there is security, we work. We also work through the UN and the international organizations inside Syria, and we do not have any hidden agenda in this field.”

He stressed that “participating in rebuilding Syria requires security and stability, and the Saudi leadership hopes for a peaceful solution as soon as possible. Until this is achieved, the relief work will continue and won’t cease.”

Al-Rabeeah announced that KSRelief is implementing a quality program to rehabilitate recruited children in Yemen alongside its education, protection, health and environment projects.

“There are those who recruit children to fight in Yemen, violating all humanitarian laws. Our center rehabilitates them so that they are not used as terrorist tools in the future,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah emphasized that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 has given relief work its share, especially in terms of volunteering programs. “We have great examples involved in the field,” he said.

Among the signed agreements was one with the Lebanese High Relief Commission (HRC) to carry out a project to cover the food needs of Lebanese families.

Chairman of Lebanon’s High Relief Commission Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair told Arab News that the agreement targets distributing 10,000 food rations to orphans, widows and destitute families in the poorest and most disadvantaged areas in Lebanon. “This project is encouraging and gives hope to people,” he said.

Khair said that there are 100,000 people in need in Bab Al-Tabbaneh district alone, pledging to commit to transparency during the implementation of the project. “It is not a question of sectarian balance; we are focused on those who are most in need,” he said.

The signed agreements include one for repairing, equipping, and operating the Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Center for Dialysis at the Makassed General Hospital, an agreement with the UNHCR worth $5 million to implement a project for assisting the most affected Syrian families for six months, an agreement to support Souboul Assalam Association in Akkar (northern Lebanon), an agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to implement a project worth $3.8 million to cover the needs of Syrian families that are below the poverty line for a year, and an agreement with UNRWA to cover the medical needs and treatment of cancer and multiple sclerosis in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said: “The challenge facing UNRWA after the reduction of its budget is maintaining the operation of its 715 schools in the Middle East.”

“Saudi Arabia is a key partner for us, and owing to its help, we will be able to help cancer and multiple sclerosis patients,” he said.