Abu Dhabi congestion looms amid taxi shortage

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Abu Dhabi congestion looms amid taxi shortage
By Samir Salama, Bureau Chief Published: September 28, 2007, 00:00

Abu Dhabi: As residents complained of an acute shortage of taxis in Abu Dhabi, a think tank has warned that the problem will worsen the traffic congestion in the city.

“A shortage in taxis will simply mean more and more people will opt to buy their own cars to rid themselves of the daily suffering of finding a cab,” said a report by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Study and Research.

The report expected that the implications of the problem will increase as time passes and that this will be reflected in worsening gridlocks.

This [predicted] increase in the numbers of cars happens at a time when the government is supposed to take measures to reduce them or at least maintain the present number, according to the report.

Statistics of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry put the increase in the number of new cars registered for the first time in Abu Dhabi at 380 per cent between 2002 and 2005, while the increase at the UAE level during the same period was 230 per cent.

A whopping 152,000 new cars were registered for the first time in Abu Dhabi in 2005 accounting for 43 per cent of the total number of cars registered across the country in the same year, compared with 40,000 cars registered in the city in 2002.

This makes the average annual growth in cars registered in Abu Dhabi around 95 per cent.

According to the ECSSR’s report, the curve of growth in the number of cars registered in the capital is ascending steeply, especially if the number of used cars registered in the city is taken into consideration.

The report expected that implications of the shortage in cabs will unfold within six months. Residents in Abu Dhabi have complained of queues being formed at bus stops, malls and in major streets everyday particularly at peak hours.

Many say they are compelled to wait for taxis for a long time in the scorching summer heat, with cars belching fumes and fraying tempers.

Refusal

Residents said even if they come across cabs, drivers refuse to take certain routes. Sahar Mohammad, 25, an Egyptian housewife, said for a 10- minute journey she had to wait for almost 60 minutes on Hamdan Street to take her children to school.

“Taxis are not available and most of the taxi drivers are very rude and arrogant and simply refuse to drive to my destination,” she said.

Varghese A., suggested that a proper public bus transport system like that in Dubai would help solve this problem. There is a lot of potential for this kind of city bus service.

Other residents complained that taxis are cashing in on people who had to move to suburbs such as Mussafah and Baniyas to escape rising rents.

Khalid Saleh Al Rashidi, general manager of the Taxi and Hire Car Regulation Centre, said there is no shortage of taxis in the city.

He told Gulf News the root cause of the problem is taxi drivers selectively taking routes which give them more revenue.

“The first batch of a new taxi fleet will hit the roads in November this year,” he said.

* 380% increase in the number of new cars registered in Abu Dhabi between 2002 and 2005.
* 230% increase in the number of new cars registered in the UAE between 2002 and 2005.
* 152,000 new cars registered in Abu Dhabi in 2005.
* 95% average annual increase in the number of cars registered in Abu Dhabi.

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