Dubai: Hefty fines for illegal carpooling

Marketing manager alleges he was trapped by RTA, but official says illegal taxis are prohibited

Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News
Documentary evidence: Samson Fernandez’s driving licence and car registration were confiscated for giving a lift to a pedestrian at Ibn Battuta Mall.
40 Gulf News

Dubai: Offering a car lift to a stranger may be construed as an illegal act carrying a hefty fine in Dubai.

The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has warned that private motorists are banned from charging money for car lifts.

The “illegal passenger transfer” violation carries a fine of Dh4,000, a senior RTA official told Gulf News. The fine is increased to Dh5,000 if not paid within 15 days.

But there is no watertight system of determining if money changed hands in alleged violations.

Many of those fined had unsuccessfully argued their “passenger” was a non-paying friend or colleague. Others claimed to have simply entertained a free lift request from a passer-by.

By contrast, illegal taxi or car pool operators pick up paid passengers along the way or run an organised service with routine scheduled trips at weekly or monthly rates. Such individuals offer cheaper fares than licensed taxi services to lure passengers.

A senior RTA official clarified the RTA encourages group transport but the practice must be “through proper system-approved channels.”

Furat Al Amiri, director of franchise and vehicle monitoring at RTA, said: “If there is a return from this practice, such as money or petrol filling, then it is considered [illegal] car pooling. If no money is being taken, then the fine isn’t right.”

He added: “My question is, would you pick up unknown suspicious persons and offer them a lift? For people’s safety and security, the RTA and police are doing great efforts to eliminate problems that could happen from such practices.”

Gulf News had inquired how inspectors check if the violation is genuine.

“Inspectors check the relation between the drivers and passengers. If there is a relation — friends, neighbours or colleagues — then the fine is not issued,” Al Amiri said.

But an Indian marketing manager claimed that he was trapped by the RTA inspector. He said that last month he was fined Dh4,000 for “illegal passenger transfer,” but he denies any wrongdoing.

Samson Fernandez claims he had pulled over next to the metro stop near Ibn Battuta mall to ask directions to “Parco accommodation area.”

“I was asking around when a man from south India said he would take me there as he knew the way. He got into my car and offered me Dh25 – I refused. Just then a plainclothes RTA officer showed up and asked the man to step out.

“The officer asked him if I had demanded any money. To my surprise, he said ‘yes’ and I was fined,” said Fernandez.

He added that his driving licence and car registration were also confiscated.

“I tried to explain the whole story to the officer but he didn’t listen to me. I told him I don’t need to give car lifts, I get a decent salary. He told me that if I insisted I was not guilty, what I should do is contact the RTA customer service centre.”

Fernandez said that he visited the RTA centre in Al Muhaisnah where he filed a complaint.

“I was told my case will be reviewed but it’ll take some time. I don’t understand what’s my fault in all this – is it illegal to ask for directions? Is it your fault if someone helps themselves into your car to talk to you?”

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  • nabeel

    Apr 9, 2013 6:27

    taxis drivers are too arrogant towards working class in dubai they prefer to take tourists so people are compelled to take another alternative

  • Mathew

    Apr 9, 2013 6:13

    we cannot blame one if he tries to get a lift when waiting in summer and no taxi stops. Ofcourse, illegal car pooling should be stopped, but is has to be ensured that the taxi drivers also consider picking travellers instead of speeding away.

  • parthy

    Apr 9, 2013 5:19

    When we wait with bags/Luggages most of the taxies never stop. RTA need to advice for taxi centers

  • Vincent

    Apr 9, 2013 4:59

    In many countries car pooling is encouraged to reduce road congestion and the UAE is no exception with its congested roads. People who work in same offices, same areas and work at same times could car pool without it being an offence. Humanity also demands that we take care of the less privileged who wait on highways hoping for a car lift.

  • passenger

    Apr 9, 2013 4:48

    The reason why passengers are encouraged to take lifts from such car poolers is becasue the RTA taxis several times dont stop and just pass by empty as if the driver has not seen the passenger waiving at them. This has happened on several occasions when at times people are desparetly waiting for a cab and out of 100 cars pass by, 1 cab which is empty will not even wait. Please ask them to stop and the passengers will not take such private lifts to reach to thier destination on time.

  • NADEEM

    Apr 9, 2013 4:43

    please RTA make a new law, as so many people wants to help others

  • Pravin

    Apr 9, 2013 4:42

    Taxis refuses to pickup from Karama Commercial Market are at any time of the day.

  • Kashif

    Apr 9, 2013 4:41

    During my drive to the neighbourhood Masjid during Summer for prayers, especially Friday prayers, I sometimes stop and pick up random elderly people whom I know are walking to the same Masjid for prayers as I am. Am I doing something illegal by picking up an elderly person going to the same Masjid as me?

  • Neeraj Thakur

    Apr 9, 2013 4:31

    i think the rta instead of giving fines need to arrange a way where bigger taxis, like a Toyota Innova, could take people around and charge fares individually for taking them to their destination, using a gps assisted technology to reduce distance and thus help people get to their destination faster and cheaper. Maybe have an app to mention where you want to go on an app, and the app shows how long before next available taxi reaches and approx charge to destination. they could hire ibm to set up such a service.

  • Parminder Singh

    Apr 9, 2013 4:21

    I feel RTA should allow car pooling, however have strict norms and regulations for those who do this for a earning. Carpooling will not only help reduce traffic but also help the environment when Dubai is already doing so much to protect it.

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Latest Comment

taxis drivers are too arrogant towards working class in dubai they prefer to take tourists so people are compelled to take another alternative

nabeel

9 April 2013 19:27 jump to comments