Passengers need to have taxis available to them at all times, said a Sharjah Taxi official in response to drivers' complaints about not having a day off. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archive

Sharjah: The transport authority in Sharjah is trying to raise the standards of its taxi drivers after 18 per cent failed their performance tests.

"The objective of the training courses was to create a new generation of drivers aware of the traffic rules and who adhere to safe driving regulations, which in turn minimises the number of accidents caused by drivers," said Abdullah Al Zari, director general of Sharjah Transport.

Sharjah Transport operates Sharjah Taxi, which was launched in 2008.

In line with the strategic objectives of Sharjah Transport to raise the performance level of its taxi drivers, 25 lectures were given over five months.

Al Zari told Gulf News that 623 drivers attended the courses. While 508 drivers passed the test, 115 or 18.46 per cent failed.

"Drivers who did not pass the test will be given another course because we ultimately want drivers to understand that it is necessary to adhere to traffic regulations, and how they are required to treat their passengers in a respectful manner," he explained.

Last year, passengers filed a number of complaints at Sharjah Transport that included drivers quarrelling with passengers, talking on mobile phones while driving, having poor hygiene, refusing to pick up passengers, not driving properly and not complying with the company uniform guidelines.

Speeding complaints

In 2009, a total of 4,500 complaints and 128 suggestions were made through the Sharjah Transport hotline number 7000 6 7000. Officials also pointed out that 19,600 violations by drivers were reported including by drivers of the four private taxi companies that operate in Sharjah.

To prevent such complaints from recurring, the courses highlighted the dangers of speeding, how to behave in an emergency situation and how to take care of their vehicles.

Ala'a Al Deen Sabhi, general manager of Sweden Safety Institute, which provided the drivers with the training, pointed out that the courses were based on real-life circumstances.

"We showed them videos that explained how different velocities can change the impact of a car accident, and made the drivers understand that speeding does not really save a lot of time but only increases the probability of an accident occurring," he said.

The taxi drivers who passed the course agreed that such training programmes were essential and that they gave them a broader perspective on how to prevent accidents as well as how to react in emergencies.

Sadeeq Al Rahman Rahman, a driver with Sharjah Taxi, said: "Drivers should have the responsibility of ensuring that the passengers reach their destinations safely and that they are in a good environment, and do not feel they are being bullied or harassed in any way."

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