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Core of Dubai’s ‘rude’ taxi drivers?

Crackdown on Rude Taxi drivers

Many of us have left a taxi feeling rather infuriated with the etiquette, manners or even geographical knowledge of the driver but what is the reason behind this growing problem?

August 21, 2012 10:43 by

While it strikes the common nerve as ‘unjust’ to accuse every taxi driver in the city of being rude and inhospitable, enough reported cases do suggest a growing epidemic of badly trained drivers in Dubai. Being an avid taxi user, this ‘Kipper’ wasn’t too surprised to come across an Emirates24|7 report highlighting the growing problem with the hospitality and etiquette of Dubai’s taxi drivers, but rather more surprised at the chosen approach of finding a solution to this problem.

Many a time did the taxi giants and the RTA gather around a web of various incentives, from extra training, warnings or termination, to dilute this repetitive issue. After receiving many complaints from indignant customers, the Dubai Taxi Corporation has decided to take up the use of psychometric testing to ensure that the number of infuriated taxi drivers is reduced.

According to the DTC, every complaint is treated with the utmost importance but considering that even Twitter has seen the worst of the discussions regarding the infamous ‘taxi driver attitude’ in Dubai, Kipp is doubtful at how efficient the customer service can be at handling the heavy traffic of filed complaints.

Nevertheless, while warnings, better training, analysis and psychometric testing would help dilute the problem in the long run, Kipp has failed to spot any authorities discussing the reduction of working shifts as being a major possibility in the solution process.

“DTC drivers have to undergo a psychometric test and every case of misconduct is thoroughly investigated,” confirms Mansoor R Al Falasi, Acting CEO of Dubai Taxi Corporation. “DTC takes these complaints very seriously and strong disciplinary action is taken against the driver. And, if required some drivers are even terminated from ever working in the UAE.”

Taxi drivers averagely work 12 hours a day for 7 days a week. If Kipp didn’t know any better, we would say that cutting down those shifts as well as providing a mandatory day-off per week could prove a more effective change than endless hours of psychometric testing. After all, working nightshifts for 12 hours all week long could turn even the most gracious of people into raging balls of stress and anxiety.

Without a doubt, certain cases of misconduct can be improved and avoided with additional training, psychometric testing or, as a final resort, termination. But the Taxi companies need to seriously consider cutting deeper into their quarterly profits to hire extra drivers so that shifts can be cut into three without a reduction of their current wages. Voila, happy-go-lucky drivers is what you’ll get!

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  1. Arti on August 21, 2012 11:14 am

    Interesting article! I like your point on reducing the number of hours. But maybe drivers would not like it since lower number of working hours would mean lower pay for them. The problem is much deeper here… Imagine the kind of life these guys live – They are away from their families living in tough conditions. They come here with the big Dubai dream taking loans in their home country and then spending months to get the license. So by the time they are on road they are deep in debt. Working longer hours give them money and maybe keeps them sane.

    For any organization, only happy employees can deliver happy experiences to customers. And in this case, these employees are far from happy. A lot needs to be done at ground level to make them feel cared for…. which is a difficult task as more than money, it involves sincere effort from the organization.

    A quick fix for customers aiming to get good service from cabbies is to talk to them nicely. Two things I always do when I step in the cab is….1. Ask the driver his name and his home country. 2. Ask him about his life in Dubai. The minute I strike the conversation, there is a 180 degree shift in their attitude. I use taxis a lot and I can say that 95% of the time I have got great service.

    Just remember that these guys live in tough conditions. And a few nice words from us would bring a win-win situation for both.

  2. M. Aldalou on August 21, 2012 11:36 am

    Very Inspiring comment and point of view Arti. Greeting them and making them feel like equals can also brighten up their mood. Hope for many to read your comment and apply it in their daily lives as well!

    Thank you for providing a balanced perspective

  3. Adam on August 21, 2012 11:48 am

    Yeah – because giving them a day off should result in their already laughable salary being cut? Same old Dubai…same issues coming around and around. It’s like Groundhog Day – with no lessons being learned.

  4. M. Aldalou on August 21, 2012 11:53 am

    Good point Adam. It has been a hamster wheel of unresolved issues. You get what you pay for and if they give a mandatory day off it should not affect their basic salary, as it doesn’t with normal office employees.

  5. Arti on August 21, 2012 12:33 pm

    As per my understanding, they make most of their salary as a factor of the revenue they bring to their organization.

  6. Gerald on August 21, 2012 2:29 pm

    3 x 8 hour shifts with the same pay would never happen. 50% increase in payroll costs. Not a chance.

    One day off a week, paid as a half day basic salary, would make far more sense. But I do wonder whether the drivers would actually want anything changed that meant they couldn’t earn as much money.

    Compared to many trades in Dubai, taxi drivers are actually well paid.

    But, it must be highlighted that it’s the squeaky wheel that gets greased. I travel everywhere in Dubai by taxi, and always chat to the drivers to find out how they’re getting on (it’s a leading indicator as to the state of the economy here). The VAST majority of the drivers that I speak to are happy, polite, knowledgeable, safe, and enjoy their jobs. It’s why they keep coming back year after year.

  7. Irfan on August 21, 2012 2:57 pm

    I do empathize with the cabbies and agree completely with Arti about them having torture of a life in Dubai, I travel a lot and Taxi drivers are my 1st source of information whilst in a new country, my experiences have been pleasant sans couple of bad experiences. More tougher the punishment meted out to an errant driver more frustrated he becomes. Treating these people humanely is the need of the hour. We come across the drivers of various nationalities in Dubai yet their story of shouldering responsibilities of their loved ones back home is common to all.

  8. Sudarsan on August 22, 2012 11:03 am

    As per my understanding, the main reason for them having to work long hours is — they have to pay up a certain fixed amount to the taxi company per day and only the excess over that is their own earnings to keep. This is so since the vehicles are actually owned by the taxi company and only “leased” to these drivers. So, if this minimum amount is cut down or their earnings made as a % to total earnings, it would be fairer — it would atleast make the driver go home early on a day he dosent feel good !

  9. Ahmad Kandeel on August 22, 2012 12:46 pm

    Same in Abu Dhabi.. It even shows in their driving :(

  10. Dai on August 25, 2012 4:19 pm

    I disagree with some comments here that the poor living and economic conditions of taxi drivers are making them rude. Come on! They make far more money than a waiter/waitress or office boy, yet they can’t be as nice. The problem with taxi drivers here is they think passengers are at their mercy. I ride a taxi every day and not a week goes by that I don’t encounter one rude driver. Most of the time, I don’t even get the chance to get in the cab, they turn you down and speed off without saying a word the moment you tell them where you’re going. This happens once week! Here’s my typical/weekly experience with a taxi driver: After I hail a taxi, the driver asks me where I’m going before I get my hands on the door. The minute I say Satwa or any place close by, the driver either shakes his head or says nothing and speeds away. They don’t even have an ounce of courtesy! All I see is arrogance. This behaviour is totally unacceptable and something must be done to change this.

  11. Andrew on August 27, 2012 2:02 pm

    Most of the cab drivers I find in Dubai are maniacs… polite maniacs though.

  12. mashoud on August 28, 2012 6:38 am

    Migrant workers, especially in the M.E., are nothing but a convenient enslavement and exploitation by the few natives that can dictate any conditions they like as long as they can enjoy an easy life.
    Outsiders do not have any say or have any rights when push comes to shove and taxi drivers are no exception.
    Walk in their shoes and you would soon find out what it takes to make a living when you have little choice.

  13. Vanessa McPherson on August 30, 2012 10:43 am

    Money being spent on sophisticated research is a scandal! The problem at core is very simple: these drivers are underpaid, overworked and most have substantial problems such as debt, poor living conditions. They live away from their families, work long shifts and have to deal with sometimes arrogant difficult expats (there are some lovely people who are patient and tip well but there are some nasty people out there) and dangerous roads on an hourly basis. Increase their wages…
    Taxi fares are cheap here so the general population should be grateful for that and not bite the hand that feeds… and show some humanism!


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