In response to complaints from residents about being cheated by taxi drivers, Qatar’s state-backed transportation company Mowasalat has begin installing new, tamper-proof meter systems in their cabs.
According to the Gulf Times, any attempts by drivers to fiddle with the meters to raise rates would be automatically flagged:
With the new meters, taxi drivers say that as soon as they try to tamper with the cables somebody from their company immediately calls them. “The new meters are now connected with some sort of electronic network so when I try to pull a cable or something, I immediately get a call from the company, asking me to verify my employee number and report to the company with the car immediately,” one driver said.
Speaking to Doha News, several taxi drivers confirmed that the meters are being installed in Mowasalat’s fleet of more than 3,000 cabs.
The first few test meters were introduced three months ago, but are now being installed at a rate of 15 taxis a week, one driver said.
The move is expected to reduce the increasing customer outrage that has ensued when drivers doctor the meter to try to charge a higher price for their services, or simply say the meter is broken and set their own rate.
A Karwa employee previously told Doha News that the most common complaints from passengers are “overpriced rates and unmetered charges, as well as a refusal to take customers to certain locations or taking more than one client and fully charging each.”
Meanwhile, drivers have said they fear explaining and defending themselves about charging higher prices, because complaints about their working conditions could get them deported.
Speaking to Doha News, an Indian taxi driver who has been with Mowasalat for eight years said:
“Drivers feel bad for what they are doing to passengers – we know it’s wrong but we are left with no other choice. We’re trapped, mistreated and misrepresented. Our management has forced us to do this.”
Mowasalat has two different structures when it comes to paying its Karwa drivers.
Some employees get a monthly salary of QR1,200. But many others work on commission and must pay Mowasalat more than QR2oo/day to rent the cars they drive.
That means they must make a minimum each day to be able to keep driving the cars, and with fares so low and traffic so congested, drivers often have a difficult time meeting or going beyond those earnings.
Another Indian driver who spoke to Doha News said that Mowasalat has not once increased the salaries of its employees during its 10 years of operation.
However, earlier this year, a Mowasalat franchisee did reduce the rental fare rate marginally after some drivers went on strike.
“It’s a black hole. If a driver cannot make QR265 in a day then he has to pay the rental money from his pocket. If he can’t afford to pay it then he can’t go to work, and for each day of missed work we must pay QR100.
Even if we have been to the doctor and have a sick note allowing us to take some time off work, our management won’t accept it and we either have to go to work or pay QR100 a day, or QR365 a day if you are renting a car. How can anyone live like this? We all have families we are supporting back home.”
As for any car damages that occur, drivers must pay from their own pockets. They are also expected to 35 percent of the cost of repairing any accident damages.
Continuing to explain why the management is responsible for drivers’ mistreatment to passengers, the driver explained:
“There used to be a number of systems in place for us. Before, we used to get 15 percent of every QR100 made after we had made the company QR3,000. That system was taken away from us.”
There also used to be a booking system in place where bookings made at the call centre would add QR4 to the start of each passenger’s journey. From that, QR2 would go toward the company and QR2 for the driver. That also stopped about two years ago.
“What else can we do? Drivers have been doing these things because otherwise they can’t make a living,” he said.
Mowasalat did not respond to requests for comment.
Regardless of public and employee frustrations, Mowasalat has been making strides over the years. Around half of the company’s fleet are Mowasalat-run and the rest are operated by two franchisees — blue-roofed cars from Al Ijarah and maroon-roofed cars from Al Million.
The taxi firm has previously said that it aims to have 7,000 taxis running on Qatar’s roads before the 2022 World Cup. According to a Mowasalat spokesperson, a total of 4,000 taxis we be operating by the end of this year.
Earlier in 2014, Mowasalat’s CEO Khalid al-Hail said that contracts had been awarded to two new taxi franchisees. The green and yellow topped-vehicles would add an extra 1,000 cars to the road.
Under the Ibin Ajayan franchise, 300 additional taxis are expected to make an appearance this August or September, with a further 200 by the end of the year. As for the second franchise, Profit Trading & Contracting Company, an announcement will be made “soon.”
Last month, Mowasalat also furthered its expansion through the introduction of upscaled cars. New BMW series 3, 5 and 7 cars are now being used to transport some travelers from Hamad International Airport.
Mowasalat has also announced that by 2017, the taxi firm will become privatized with a total of six private firms operating the taxis.
This is a good move but the other problem needs addressing. They should have plain clothes inspectors to approach the Karwa drivers that hang around outside hotels trying to rip off westerners. Trying to negotiate a ‘fee’ to take you home. Disgraceful practise.
Yes, how dare they attempt to fleece wealthy westerners of a few riyals. The cheek!
That’s what your saying, right? I’m straight on that?
Yes they should rip off their own people…..
I found a simple way to deal with them. They take me where I want to go and then I don’t pay because the meter is not switched on. They say they will call the police and I say great. Let’s wait. They drive off.
c’mon, man… I read a lot of your comments on here, and I agree with a lot of what you say, but.. really?
These people have nothing. I’m not condoning dishonest practices, but have a little empathy.
God forbid it, but you or I in the next life could be there:
Struggling to feed our families as Doha taxi driver..
washing cars in the claustrophobic basement of City Center, breathing in Carbon Monoxide..
sitting in a Nissan Civilian, on your way back to your six-bed-in-a-room dormitory..
I grateful for where I am. Are you?
The people that wash cars I have no problem with and I always tip generously, that is my perogative. They do not try to rip me off.
Those people that hang around outside hotels, (and I hate to say it they are mainly of African origin) try to rip off law abiding citizens who do not want to drink and drive. I don’t want a 10 minute negotation when I am trying to get home.
If I stole money from my company because I decided they were rich then that would also be wrong and I would probably go to jail. These people are doing the same thing.
The taxi firms are obviously at fault for atrocious management and plain greed; but being ripped off constantly by the drivers is incredibly annoying. My new strategy is, if meter isn’t turned on, and I get the “airport taxi” or meter broken arguments, is to pay the 10QR minimum, no matter journey length. If the meter is running as per normal, with no hassle, I also leave a decent tip.
While I of course support the new meters, it’s just yet another example of additional measures being taken to protect the wealthy… while the poor taxi drivers are basically enslaved by their company with no help, no protections. The exploitive labor practices of this nation are indefensible, and truly tantamount to modern slavery. Shame on this purportedly “religious” state for dragging its feet on any kind of reforms to actually treat other people as human beings.
There should be ZERO tolerance for basically cheating customers and the company. I would rather see all offending drivers either fined or deported for what they did.
Two different problems. Abuse by the sponsors and cheating by taxi drivers of customers. One doesn’t excuse the other.
They somehow correlate. abusive sponsors (management) = poor service. You simply cannot take one away from the other. because at the end of day. the root cause / underlying factors remain the same.
Poor service I can agree with because you are demotivated but being treated badly by your boss doesn’t excuse stealing.
Well we are living in an ERA where Capitalism will ALWAYS be worshiped and trump over democracy & morality & humanity irregardless of nationality,race, creed & religion.
Insert some kind of statement that shows i’m an intellect. Explain how Qatar is doing something wrong and that it needs to improve.
Isn’t this how all comments are lately? Why are you even here in the first place if Qatar is shameless, exploitive, abhorrent and so wrong all the time. The best sign of protest is to start leaving the country, but you are all hypocrites. Almost everyone here on Doha News has chronic depression and just can’t seem to fit in, it’s funny because they all converge here on the comments. So why don’t you just leave honestly. Nothing against you Ryan Miller, just some thoughts.
It is because most of them are not employable abroad and Qatar has very low standards when it comes to the foreign talent they recruit, hence they are forced to stay here and whine about everything under the sun.
They are hypocrites indeed, they have no problem working for and receiving their paychecks from the “shameless/corrupt/modern slave using” economy,but when the work day ends, lo and behold, they’ve turned into anonymous online Human Rights activists.
If they felt that strongly about the situation, they would take their voices public, or leave the country altogether, that would send a much stronger message to the authorities than just posting anonymously on DN and circle jerking to each others anti-Qatar posts.
what kind of a transportation company is this where they are mistreating their own employees…this should be closed immediately…where is human rights and labor department at this time
You can blame the transport company some of the time but not always as most of this drivers are so unhelpful, rude and picky when picking passengers that most of their time goes just driving around like the TAXI is their private property. The rentals infact should be increased so this taxi drivers can do a proper and honest job of what they are being paid for. This guys were driving donkey carts back home and suddenly find themselves behind the wheel of brand new vehicles
This is a classic case of:
‘No-one is innocent. But some are more guilty than others..’
Yes, the drivers are trying to make an extra few quid, but who can blame them? QR1200 a month, or pay extortionate rental fees to Mowsalat. My a*se
What would you do if it was your company? Have you seen the paid drivers how many QR hand over to the company after 11 hours on the road? All Taxi Drivers claim to be rentals! It’s not true. The company goes a great length to recruit and train those Taxi drivers, Honestly they come without experience, but the company plays a great roll to turn them to a real drivers. How much do they afford per day when they are deployed in the operation? They would never tell you how many QR they cheat from the company, yet they complain when they are deployed as a rental drivers.You often hear them calling the company as ” Harami” Honestly 265 QR for the rentals is too much but, in my opinion it’s the company’s sole way of vengeance. It is fact that the company fines them if they make accident due to their own fault. They are forced to pay 350 QR and no receipt! The fine is to discourage reckless and irresponsible driving but regarding the receipt, only Karwa could give you the right answers. It’s true that the company has stopped the commission which was used to pay the drivers, but even while there was a paid commission the drivers never stopped from cheating the company.They will never stop cheating unless there is a strict control and yes of course good salary to the drivers.QR 1200 salary was set with the foundation of the company in around 2004. Inflation and cost of living has sky rocketed and since there is no salary increment from the company,you can’t expect everything to run smooth with the drivers.Since there is no salary increment, the company will keep recycling employees Most of the Taxi drivers leave the company with the excuse of emergency leave after exploiting six to nine months of paid driver( cheating) and before completing two years .I hope the new Mr Khalid Al-Hail’s administration will find a solution for the satisfaction of all parties and mainly to the very satisfaction of customers.
Hi, This is my story!
I am a driver working for Karwa since last 4 years. I have paid 75,000 Indian Rs (about 6500 QR that time) to the agency who recruited me. I borrowed the recruitment money and it took 3 years for me to paid back after my hard work. I paid 265 QR every day to rent a taxi and several times I didn’t get even 200 QR. I paid to Karwa from my pocket. Finally I decided to stop the meter and charge dishonestly. Because I have my parents, wife and 3 school children back home. Several times westerners didn’t pay me because my meter was on even they agreed a price to their location. I am not blaming them because it is my mistake. We are 6 people staying in one room. Many drivers do other businesses also but I can not do that. I don’t have enough money to buy a bottle of drink and sometimes satisfy with a complimentary drink from friends. Some regular customers offer me Beers but I don’t have a place to take it and drink. Some of my friends always make fun of me because I don’t order any dishes with the parottas. A curry cost minimum 8 QR and it is equal to 130 Indian Rs which can feed my whole family back home in a day.
Now they installed new meter in my Car and I am on a monthly salary 1200 QR. Now I don’t bother about customers because I have no targets. Even if I drive or not I get 1200 QR. So most of the time I park the car somewhere and sleep. I don’t get any extra money now. I will try this 2-3 more months and waiting for a meter malpractice. If not succeed I will resign and will go back to another destination. Sorry to all my customers which I cheated.
Yousef…Nice name…and a bottle of drink…name and this statement mismatches…come with another drama
Yes you should resign and go back home if your company treats you so badly. You should also report the recruitment agency in India that exorted money from you to the Indian Embassy.
Your English and grammar is so good it makes me have no doubt at all about your story.
Cool story bro.
my guess is as good as the comment of one of the guest here….hehehe.. doubting aloud!…
Now that Uber is available in Doha, I think this entire business will change dramatically in the coming months, as it has in many other cities. My wife has used Uber many times and has been very happy with it. Good service, reasonable rates, no cheating, no cash changing hands – what’s not to like?
are the blue-roofed cars from Al Ijarahand maroon-roofed CARS ( spell check from the article? ) from Al Million also being installed with tamper proof meters? Thanks.
Can someone please enlighten me how the Taxi business system works? I’ve read somewhere there’s this law stating that Taxi vehicles are to be replaced after 3 years of service? If so how can one justify the 265 Daily rental to achieve ROI?
Hmmm…he can feed his whole family with 8 qar back home. So with about 250 qar they’ll be ok for a full month. That leaves 950 out of 1200.
Perhaps they only get 1200 because like one gentleman below mentioned they prefer to just park it and sleep.
I’m about sick and tired of everyone complaining about the “mistreatment” of taxi drivers. There’s always the construction sector option where one of their countrymen can abuse them with overtime and they would barely reach the 1200 qar mark.
I’m not encouraging abuse, but this is the market condition.
Paying 6500 recruitment fee to get here for a “too much low salary” is just plain stupid and anyone agreeing to that either intends to cheat and steal or they’re just not able to understand the meaning of a contract.
abuse, slavery and greed on poor people…..the problem is not the drivers, it is the company! Treat them fairly and they will not rip you off, and if they do than take actions. But here is Mowasalat ripping off people who are working hard.
Too easy to take measures on people who don’t have much of a choice.
A generous passenger dont think 5 riyals added to the fare even meter says 10.00 riyals only for he or she know what the driver suffering BUT the greedy even .50 dirhams or .25 or .75 they ask for the change….
You spending morethan 5 riyals or thousands in your vices or luxurious in life why 5 riyals or 10 riyals extra to help drivers like me…
And I found the answer ” They just simply they Dont care”…
Adding money is as a tip is OPTIONAL and no one for whatever reason is obligated to give you ANY extra tips.
Some people do and that’s something nice they did themselves not a requirement.
I switched to the taxi app Careem, price quoted beforehand, paid by CC, no cash, a min to book, child seats available. No more hassles. I just got sick of Karwa and sometimes felt frightened. Such a shame because in Dubai I really rate the taxi service, what are they doing differently?
So they will install 15 meters a week. With a fleet of 3,000 taxis that will take 200 weeks or 4 years. Great performance…
Is Mowasalat also planning to set up or install “tamper proof drivers? not only the meters… hehehe…just thinking aloud