The forum that commenced on Tuesday to obtain suggestions from taxi drivers and local citizens about the pricing of taxi fares, ended with heated discussion from both sides.
This forum was organized by Transport Authority when problems arose due to taxi drivers charging a fee of MVR 100 for a one-way trip across the Sinamale Bridge despite the government issuing a fare of MVR 40.
The government tried to bring the taxi fares down but was met with protests by drivers, which led to the Transport Authority hosting a discussion where drivers and locals were given a space to voice out any problems.
The government permitted drivers to charge any fares they see fit until a conclusion is reached.
Speaking about the difficulties they face, all taxi drivers insisted that the MVR 100 fare charged to cross the bridge is not an excessive amount. Drivers noted that living costs and the cost of everything in general were high. They further mentioned that in addition to living costs, they had to consider car repair costs as well.
Many taxi drivers also raised the problem of capital Male’s roads. Drivers noted that congestion and road conditions meant longer driving time for a fare of MVR 25.
Some drivers declared that the MVR 25 fare for rides within the city was an inadequate amount. After paying the taxi owner, and deducting petrol fees and maintenance fees, taxi drivers get very little income, they said.
Locals raised issues stating that quality of service was poor despite the high fares.
Mohamed Zahir (Meemu Zaviyani), who spoke on behalf of citizens, noted that the MVR 25 fare charged for rides within the city is also a considerably large amount compared to neighbouring countries. He also questioned the quality of services provided by taxi drivers while they called for higher fares.
Some problems raised by civilians include the stench inside some cars, the behaviour and attitude of drivers towards passengers, the poisonous gases being released due to poor maintenance of vehicles, and disturbances faced by pedestrians and others on the roads due to misconduct of taxi drivers.
Locals also insisted on metered taxis as a solution and called for the government to consider the citizens using the service instead of being lenient towards taxi drivers.
Comparisons were made saying that the population using taxi services was much larger than the number of taxi drivers, and therefore locals’ suggestions must be given more consideration.
Some locals agreed that the MVR 40 fare allotted by the government was less than adequate for the Sinamale Bridge route, but that the MVR 100 fare demanded by taxi drivers was too hefty. Citizens called for stricter rules and regulations to be placed upon drivers.
In the speech given to conclude the forum, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Aminath Nahula stated that any decisions made by the ministry would be made after considering suggestions put forward by both taxi drivers and locals. She emphasized that the forum was not held in favour of a certain group of people.
Minister Nahula guaranteed that any decisions made in President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration would be in the best interest of everyone involved.
The Transport Ministry revealed that even though the forum concluded on Tuesday night, suggestions for taxi fares will be accepted until next Sunday. Suggestions can be made via email, phone and in writing to the ministry.