The RTA is seeking feedback from both drivers and passengers during the camera trial run. Image Credit: Reader pictures

Dubai: The Roads and Transport Authority has installed CCTV cameras in taxis as part of a pilot project to monitor the performance of drivers and for general security, a senior official told Gulf News on Tuesday.

Each taxi has been equipped with three tiny cameras, one installed near the centre mirror of the vehicle, covering only the driver, while the other two are set up at the front and rear of the taxi, externally.

Abdullah Yousuf Al Ali, CEO, Public Transport Agency, RTA, said: “The installation of cameras in taxis is a project under trial. The project has been ongoing over the past six months. Until now a few taxis have been equipped and we are testing the system with different types of cameras to get the best results. Each taxi includes three CCTVs, one on the driver only [not covering passengers] and the other two for rear and front [outside the vehicle].”

The RTA is yet to decide if all taxis in Dubai, including those operated by franchises, will have the cameras. “Since the project is yet under trial we have not launched or prescribed any mandatory rules,” Al Ali said.

“I took a cab [Dubai Taxi] from Emirates Towers Metro station on Tuesday and I was surprised to notice a CCTV camera installed in a car’s sun visor. The Ethiopian driver said it was installed last month and it’s already working,” an expatriate told Gulf News.

The cameras, the official explained, will help RTA monitor the performance of drivers and is for “general security”.

The CCTV cameras will provide feed to the transport authority’s control centre.

The pilot phase is expected to last a few months and during this period feedback will be taken from drivers and passengers.

“It is an interesting addition to the technologies and security systems available on taxis. Though one may not always like to be monitored closely, it will definitely make you feel safer in a taxi,” said Alan Cremer, a health professional, who uses taxis frequently.

Apart from bringing a sense of security to passengers, it also serves as a back up for taxi drivers in cases of dispute.

“I won’t mind having a camera installed in my vehicle. In fact, it will help me do my job better. Often, we run into disputes with passengers and we don’t have anything to prove our case when the matter is taken to the authorities. The cameras will help in this regard,” said Mohammad Furqan, whose taxi is not yet equipped with a CCTV camera.

The CCTV cameras are the latest in a series of enhancements that Dubai’s fleet of taxis is going through.

The smart gadgets on taxis include Global Positioning System, LCD touch screens on select taxis, Nol and credit card payment system being installed in phases as well as airport check-in facilities on airport taxis.