Arab News – The Ministry of Transport plans to ban taxis from roaming the streets from next year with the phased introduction of an electronic booking system.
Saad Al-Sayari, director general of the ministry in the Eastern Province, said a private company has been contracted to develop the booking system to operate through fixed line and mobile telephones.
He said the ban is linked to the completion of the system. “Taxis are currently allowed to roam freely in the streets because the system to operate the service is not ready and in place yet,” he said Al-Sayari.
The ban would be phased in, with large taxi companies targeted first, followed by medium and then small ones. There are also plans to regulate the taxis owned by private individuals, which may require alternative solutions because many citizens own licenses to operate in the market, he said.
Al-Sayari said the ministry has received several complaints from companies over the fee structure for the system. He said there are plans underway to reduce these fees.
According to reports, the government has been considering the ban for some time because of concerns over traffic congestion and accidents because of the many taxi drivers competing for customers on the country’s roads.
Several insurance companies have even refused to insure taxis as they represent a high risk and threaten their viability because of frequent accidents, the reports stated.
Insurance experts have said that a ban on roaming would see insurance premiums reduced, but this may take at least six months after the ban comes into effect because these firms would need to reassess the risks.
The ministry has proposed fining taxi drivers over SR5,000 if they are found roaming the streets for the first offense, and withdrawal of licenses for a repeat offense.

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