Despite initial plans, yellow-roofed taxis will not be hitting Qatar’s streets after all, government transportation company Mowasalat has said – though “pink” limos are on their way.
The snag is because Petro Qatar, which was due to launch this summer as the nation’s third franchise taxi service, has not met licensing requirements. Speaking to Doha News, a Mowasalat spokeswoman said:
“Please be advised that, due to the fact that Petro Qatar has not met a condition of franchise contract, the license to operate granted to them has been cancelled and we have then increased vehicle numbers of our existing franchisees.”
Petro Qatar had been due to add 300 new taxis to the Karwa fleet.
Though Mowasalat did not elaborate on what happened, taxi franchisee Alijarah announced its intention to buy Petro Qatar in March, subject to approval from the authorities.
It it possible that this sale means that Petro Qatar is no longer a separate company, and therefore unable to operate a separate franchise.
At the time, Alijarah Board of Directors Vice-Chairman Salem bin Butti Al Nuaimi told the QNA that the purchase would “significantly increase the number of vehicles in its fleet.”
His remarks suggested a larger, consolidated taxi franchise company, supporting Mowasalat’s statement that they have increased vehicle numbers from their existing franchisees.
Alijarah currently operates 500 blue-roofed Karwa taxis, and has announced plans to add 150 more.
Franchised taxis were introduced last year to try to ease the burden on the existing Karwa fleet, which was struggling to meet demand, with some customers finding it impossible to book a taxi at short notice.
Meanwhile, Alijarah has announced that it’s expanding its taxi services even further, by launching a female-driver-only taxi service. Pink Limousine will offer an alternative for female passengers and families who feel more comfortable being driven by another woman.
The idea’s already a hit in Dubai, where a similar company has been operating since 2007.
Pink Limousine has recruited 20 female drivers from Kenya and Ghana who will drive a fleet of 10 white (not, as the name would suggest, pink) Nissan Altima cars equipped with satellite navigation.
No specific date for the launch has been set, Alijarah human resources manager Walid A Yehya told Doha News:
“We can’t give a specific time frame for launch, but as we have recruited the drivers and the cars are already in Doha and we are registering them, it will be soon.”
The introduction of the female-only service follows complaints from some female passengers, who say they feel threatened and intimidated by some drivers into paying higher charges, particularly at night.
Credit: Photo by Penny Yi Wang