Image by gerry balding via FlickrMr. G. tells me of a new iniquity being heaped on the heads of Sharjah’s already stressed-out cabbies. A new dictat from Das Company means that now they’re not allowed to buy more than Dhs50 of petrol in any given day – if they do, it’s to come out of their own pockets.
All of the cabbies working for the new ‘regulated’ taxi companies are remunerated purely on a commission-only basis – there is no basic salary whatsoever paid to them, despite this being in contravention of the current labour law.
They have to make Dhs 275 a day in fares to even have a chance of making money on their commission-only deal. If they make less, apparently they’re fined by some companies. They’re also fined for a wide range of things, from failing to stop for a fare through to picking up near the airport. In fact, a lot of people walk from Sharjah airport all the way to the ADNOC station on the airport road to avoid the Dhs20 surcharge that the airport taxis levy. Mr G got fined Dhs150 for picking up a passenger outside the ADNOC station, which has not made him happy. Given that he is an unusually lugubrious chap at the best of times, this is fascinating to observe. The inspectors who prowl the streets preying on unsuspecting cabbies are, of course, remunerated on the number of fines they dole out, a nicely sadistic way of harnessing unenlightened self-interest.
Interestingly, Dhs50 doesn’t even fill a Toyota Camry. At the 'new' "We've put the rates up to accommodate the drivers" rate of Dhs1.5 per kilometre, a taxi would have to travel over 180 Kilometres with a paying passenger to make the Dhs275 daily minimum. And, of course, taxis spend a great deal of time driving around looking for a fare - never more so than in Sharjah right now, where the buses roam left, right and centre for pennies.
You do begin to wonder what they'll think of next...