Motorists being inspected by police in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: ABU DHABI POLICE

Abu Dhabi: Once again, motorists have been warned that carpooling in their private vehicles is illegal and will invite hefty fines.

Only licensed taxis and private carriers are allowed to transport people to and from destinations, said authorities on Monday.

According to the Federal Traffic Law, the penalty for illegally transporting passengers carries a fine of Dh3,000, loss of 24 traffic points and vehicle confiscation for 30 days.

Roughly 2,200 motorists have been fined so far this year for illegally transporting passengers in their private vehicles in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Police said.

Generally in Abu Dhabi, illegal ‘taxis’ operate from different localities that include Elektra and Murror Road signal behind Janata Bank, opposite Abu Dhabi Bus terminus and behind Evision building off the Airport Road.

Blue collar workers and low income groups opt for such unauthorised taxis because they can’t afford expensive fares of taxis when travelling to Musaffah and different outskirts of Abu Dhabi.

Most illegal operators use old saloons with four persons sharing a fare of Dh10 each to get to the outskirts from downtown Abu Dhabi.

They opt for this because is quicker and affordable while buses take too much time to reach Musaffah.

Brigadier Ibrahim Sultan Al Zaabi, director of the transport security department of Abu Dhabi Police, said, “illegally transporting passengers has serious consequences for the commuters and pose a serious threat to society. It also poses danger to the health and security of the community.”

Brigadier Al Zaabi asked the public not to use private vehicles operating as illegal taxis and opt for only the licensed modes of transportations available in the city.

“These unidentified drivers pose a serious risk to passengers in case of accidents and the legal prosecution becomes difficult when the driver is unknown or unlicensed,” he said.

Abu Dhabi Police and the Department of Transport carry out continuous campaigns to monitor such illegal activities in the city and issue fine tickets or confiscate their vehicles accordingly.

From the beginning of the year, the police carried out a number of awareness drives among motorists and residents about the dangers of using illegal and unauthorised vehicles.

Abu Dhabi Police also urged people to avoid such transports because these cabs lack security and safety features and the cab driver could be driving the car without a driving licence.

In June last year, the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City impounded 98 vehicles from Al Wathba area as they were being operated as illegal taxis. The vehicles were impounded in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Police.

Dubai stops carpooling

Last month, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) confirmed that its carpooling platform, Sharekni — which issued permits for motorists and ride-sharing commuters — had been suspended.

“RTA has currently suspended Sharekni or the car-sharing services. We are studying other effective alternatives to cater to the public demand,” said Mohammad Abu Bakr Al Hashemi, Director, Planning and Business Development at RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

He added that the RTA encouraged commuters to use public transport and other smart alternatives.

“RTA has introduced various services which include ‘Smart Car Rental’, taxis, limousine and E-Hail services to help commuters reach their destinations and connect with different public transport modes. We encourage commuters to use public transport and other smart alternatives,” said Al Hashemi.

However, it is not clear whether commuters in Dubai can continue to carpool privately without permits and many are worried they are at risk of attracting fines.