Posted on December 31, 2016

The practice of providing illegal taxi services using rented cars has brought tariffs of car rental agencies down on the one hand and on the other is causing huge concern among Karwa taxi drivers.

Interactions with industry sources revealed that a large number of expatriates are hiring cars from small and medium car rental companies not for personal use but to use them as illegal taxis. “As these people hire cars on a long-term basis, car rental agencies offer them special discounts which has brought rents of cars below the market rates,” said an employee of a car rental company who didn't want to be named. He said that big car rental companies have corporate clients who have struck long-term deals with them for providing a large fleet of vehicles. “Big national or international car rental companies have permanent corporate clients and therefore they operate in a different manner but the medium or small-sized car rental agencies usually deal with individuals or small companies,” he added.

Another person from the trade said that car rental business was thriving as a large number of people were hiring cars for operating them as taxis. “This trend has brought car rents down. Usually an agency charges QR2,200 to QR2,000 per month for a 1600cc vehicle like Mitsubishi, Honda, Toyota etc, but due to illegal taxi runners, the per month rent has come down to QR1,600 to QR1,800,” he said. The use of rented cars as cabs, which is illegal, has not only affected market rents but also the business of Karwa taxis. “I have to pay QR210 for 12 hour shift to the company but I have earned only QR170 while only two hours are left for my shift to end,” said Tikaram, a Karwa taxi driver, putting all the blame on private taxis. He noted that the illegal private cabs were killing their business and also over-charging the passengers.

Another cab driver said that along private taxis, limousine companies had also become a challenge for them. “They can operate on booking and primarily from the airport and hotels but they have started picking passengers from roads which is not allowed,” he observed. An owner of a limousine company admitted that limousine companies were operating out of their defined ambit further saying that the tough competition in market and on roads had compelled them to do so. “Few months ago there were more than 500 limousine registered companies in the country. Well-reputed and old companies have fleet of 200 plus vehicles while the smaller ones too own 40 to 45 vehicles. Everyone is trying to avail every possible opportunity to earn either from bookings or picking passengers from roadsides,” he added.

source: The Peninsula