Ride-sharing apps end ‘good days’ for taxi drivers in Saudi Arabia

Drivers say good old days are over for traditional taxis as ride hailing apps muscle in. (AN photo)
Updated 07 September 2018
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Ride-sharing apps end ‘good days’ for taxi drivers in Saudi Arabia

  • I don’t want to waste my time waiting for a service-seeker who might not show up or delay me, says driver
  • I think taxis will disappear from the scene, predicts another

Taxi drivers say that they had “good days” before the arrival of Uber, Kareem and other ride-sharing apps in Saudi Arabia. 

Abrar Hussein, a Pakistan taxi driver, said that previously cabbies used to earn from SR350 ($93) to SR400 a day. “At that time, I used to give the company SR170 but that was fine for me as I worked from seven in the morning and got back to my house for a rest at one in the afternoon. I would then go out at four until it was midnight,” Hussein said.

Nowadays, he gives SR140 to his company. “Everyday, we suffer until we get that amount. It takes me 15-17 hours of hard searching for passengers. The maximum amount I can collect every day is SR250,” he said.

He said that he used to pay SR17 to supply his car with fuel, then that increased to SR33. Now he fills his car with SR55-60 per day. According to him, only a sum of SR40-60 remains in his pocket. He spends most of that amount on his daily needs.

“I receive a monthly salary from my company of some SR1,000, but that is not enough for a dignified life of a family,” he said.

Asked why he is not using an application to hunt for passengers, Hussein replied that he could do that, although it is not allowed, but he thinks the applications are useless. “I don’t want to waste my time waiting for a service-seeker who might not show up or delay me,” Hussein said.

As a father of two children, Hussein remits from SR1,500 to SR2,000 to his family. Despite that, Hussein is thinking of returning to his country after 10 years of what he described as “good days” in Saudi Arabia.

 “It is true that the amount I send to my family is somehow enough, but I myself can’t continue in such excruciating circumstances. I have my own personal needs that I can’t secure, unless I deduct something from the amount I remit to my family, which will worsen their financial situation,” he said.

Battle for passengers

Another Pakistani taxi driver, Mohammed Azeem, who has been in Saudi Arabia for three months, told Arab News that he has to pay SR100 to his company every day.

“I start working at 7 a.m. and continue until 10 p.m. The 15-hour work can sometimes bring me up to SR200. Half of this amount goes to my company while I spend the other portion on fueling my car and getting my daily needs of food,” Azeem said.

Azeem said that they are not allowed to use any ride-sharing applications such as Uber, Kareem and Easy Taxi. He revealed that such applications have caused them to work hard to find customers.

“Sometimes, I go around the city for more than an hour without finding a taxi-service seeker. These applications seem to have lured passengers,” he said. Azeem added that he is not optimistic about staying in Saudi Arabia with such “unfair” competition. “This is not fair, and I think taxis will disappear from the scene,” he said.

Abdullah Al-Mutairi, spokesman for the Public Transportation Authority (PTA), told Arab News that there are more than 250,000 Saudi drivers using ride-sharing applications, and the authority has so far approved 18 applications as per the third quarter of 2018.

Responding to a question about using an unlicensed application to find passengers, Al-Mutairi said that in addition to blocking the application, the PTA imposes harsh fines on both the driver and the company.

 “We count on the awareness of the public in following the regularly updated list of authorized applications, which we have announced through our website and Twitter accounts,” he said.

Al-Mutairi added the fines against violators vary according to the regulations. For example, any cabbie who is caught or reported to be using an unlicensed application will be fined. 

“Moreover, a fine of SR5,000 will be imposed on the company recruiting him. We will also demand the blocking of unapproved applications,” he said.

The PTA has announced on its official account that they warned customers against dealing with some illegal applications such as Taxifyksa meaning (Taxi in KSA), Saeqty (My Chauffeuse) and Twadeeny (Give me a ride?)

Air pollution 

The measure came as part of the PTA’s concern about the safety and security of citizens and residents.

The spokesperson noted that taxis driving around the city looking for business could contribute to increasing rates of air pollution. “Furthermore, such taxis can cause traffic congestions on the streets. There are cab ranks in front of malls, hospitals airports and many other places where taxi drivers can wait to be hired,” he said.

Al-Mutairi warned that violating drivers would expose themselves to financial penalties. “A violation of such a kind would bring a fine of SR500. 

“All transport service providers should adhere to the instructions and rules to avoid punishment,” he said.

Fawaz Al-Sahli, PTA vice president of the Land Transport Sector, said that it is working on reforming taxi-application services to ensure the interests of both the companies and Saudi drivers. “We are also keen to make the services available for customers at reasonable prices,” he said.

Al-Sahli said that the PTA had stopped issuing licenses for new non-shared services until the PTA finalizes an overall systemization for the business.

 


Saudi Arabia's aid agency funds hospital in Syria with medical supplies

The project has been signed with the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations. (SPA)
Updated 20 November 2018
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Saudi Arabia's aid agency funds hospital in Syria with medical supplies

  • Al-Moallem said KSRelief had also extended the duration of two of its existing WASH projects, which he said were to ensure potable water supply and hygiene to help in maintaining health and preventing disease

RIYADH: Stepping up humanitarian efforts in Syria, the King Salman Center for Humanitarian Aid and Relief (KSRelief) signed a health project to ensure uninterrupted medical service in the war-torn country by providing funds and medical supplies for Bab Al-Hawa Hospital, and also extended water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects to help the people.
Director for Health and the Environmental Aid Department at KSRelief, Dr. Abdullah Saleh Al-Moallem, told Arab News on Monday: “KSRelief signed the health services support project for Bab Al-Hawa Hospital, which is the biggest hospital in northern Syria.
“The health service project’s cost is $3.528 million and will serve about a million people.”
He added that the project agreement is for one year and includes all operations for the hospital by meeting expenses including salaries and providing medical supplies including equipment to ensure uninterrupted medical service to the people.
The project has been signed with the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), which is an implementing partner, he said.
Al-Moallem added that Bab Al-Hawa is a specialized hospital, the flagship of health care in northern Syria, and the hospital staff provide much-needed health care in the war-hit country.

Specialized services
Some of its specialized services include cardiology, pediatrics, gynecology and surgeries including neurological surgery, he added.
The hospital also boasts a state-of-the-art training center, where a wide variety of medical and other health care-related courses are run to develop the skills and knowledge of all health care staff in the hospital itself, as well as in the wider health care community.
The hospital is operated under the auspices of UOSSM. Al-Moallem said KSRelief had also extended the duration of two of its existing WASH projects, which he said were to ensure potable water supply and hygiene to help in maintaining health and preventing disease.
One project is to rehabilitate water supply and solid waste management systems, and another aims to improve the sustainable provision of water to the facility, he said, adding that the combined costs for both projects are to the tune of $2.45 million.
As KSRelief remains committed to providing aid to the Syrian people at all levels, the team from the Center also reviewed various ways to expand support for its projects to support Syrian IDPs (internally Displaced people) and refugees in neighboring countries.