JEDDAH: DIANA AL-JASSEM
Saturday 18 August 2012
Last Update 18 August 2012 2:13 pm
Motorists across the Kingdom are trying to benefit of the increased evening traffic congestion since the start of holy month Ramadan and during Eid.
Due to big crowds, motorists start working as taxi drivers in Ramadan. Those motorists use their private vehicles and follow special strategy to avoid traffic patrols.
According to Jeddah traffic management statistics, the main areas of reported problems are the roads leading into the downtown, roads leading to malls, and roads leading to Makkah.
Col. Zaid Al-Hamdy, the head of public relations at Jeddah Traffic Management, said private motorists are forbidden in the Kingdom to work as cab drivers and it is a violation.
“This is a phenomenon that is available through the year, but it increase largely during the holy months Ramadan and Haj. To control this phenomenon, our patrols observed main areas, like roads lead to Makkah and Madinah, airport, malls and downtown,” he said.
Latest statistic issued by Jeddah police confirmed that the number of seized motorists that work as taxi drivers in 2011 was 16,454.
“This year the number of seized motorists is also large. During the last nine months of the year 1433 (2012), we caught about 8,230 motorists. Saudi motorists number reach 4,867 while non-Saudi motorists number is 3, 363. I think the number of motorists will increase in the coming few months as pilgrims will start arriving to Jeddah,” he said.
According to the traffic law, offenders will have to pay a fine of SR 300 and their vehicles will be confiscated for 15 days.
“This fine will be double if the motorist repeat the violation,” he said.
Mohammad Hassan, a Pakistani driver who transfers frequently around malls in Tahlia Street said that Ramadan crowd is considered his golden opportunity to gain money.
“It is normally benefits me a lot when I work as a driver in Ramadan. I use my own car to get money without being asked to pay a car rent to any company,” he said. “However, lately it has been risk as traffic patrols are available everywhere to control the movement.”
He added, “I believe that motorists’ contribution to decrease crowd is something valued. Actually, there should not be any anger over motorists’ contribution during holy month Ramadan or Haj. As I am slowly driving I would wait to see if there is any traffic police or some kind of wreck,” he said. “I always try to use the free road with no accident to be seen,”
Subhi Jamal, an Egyptian taxi driver who uses a public taxi car, said that motorists who are working as taxi drivers offer the same service with lower fees in order to attract people.
“I noticed that group of private cars start gathering around Serafi Mega Mall to transfer people in Ramadan. Those motorists try to park far of the front door to avoid being noticed by traffic police. Actually, they stand next to the main door then start asking women to go with them,” he said.
According to Jamal, he used to set a fixed price per each service with group of his colleagues, but motorists always break the agreement as they offer lower prices to people.
“Motorists always break the agreement and offer lower prices, which some times attract people and specially women,” he said.
Hind Humaidan, a Palestinian woman stated that she prefers to go by a taxi driver rather than motorist, but sometimes the motorist offers lower fees, which attract her.
“Few days ago I was at Al-Andalus mall in Jeddah. When I got out of the mall I saw two taxi drivers who want to charge me SR 40. Then I saw an Indian driver who was standing, without his car, near to the main gate,” she said.
She added, “The motorist said that he will transfer me for only SR 25. When I agreed he asked me to follow him far of the main gate. I was surprised when I saw his private car. Actually, I went with him because he asked me for a very suitable price.”
Some women prefer not to go with a motorist unless they make sure of his nationality.
“I suspect well-looking motorists. When someone told me that he works as a taxi, I check his style first; this can help me to decide. When the motorist is too elegant and well looking I suspect him. This is why I prefer non-Arab expat motorists rather than Arab,” said Halima, a Saudi elderly woman who used to go with motorist to Makkah weekly during the holy month Ramadan.
Arab News is not responsible for the view points, opinions and actions expressed by online commenters. Individual posts do not reflect Arab News' points of view or opinion, and abusive content will be removed