Muscat – The Aber app, launched by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MTCIT) on June 1 to enhance taxi services in the sultanate, has failed to find acceptance among many taxi drivers.
The app aims to do away with the need of haggling over taxi fares by determining the tariff of a trip through a digital metre. MTCIT intended to protect the rights of both passengers and taxi drivers with this app.
Muscat Daily spoke with several taxi drivers, all of who stated that they don’t use the app. Khamis, who preferred to go by his first name, expressed his concerns, saying, “We haven’t received any new information regarding the app. The ministry has not provided any training on how to use it, even though it has been launched. We will be notified of any updates via WhatsApp.”
According to Khamis, many drivers are not aware of the app’s existence. “The ministry knows best whether this will be beneficial for us or not. We will welcome it whenever it becomes fully functional and hope that the ministry’s decision will work in our favour.”
Unlike Khamis, Saif Yahya Abdullah al Qasbi has strong reservations against the app. “I oppose this regulation because the rates will skyrocket if we use the metre, and as a result, we will lose passengers. Digital metres are primarily useful for airport taxis, not regular taxis.”
The scepticism is widespread and there appears to be a consensus among taxi drivers that fares will be high through the app resulting in their losing passengers.
Ahmed Mustafa al Abri, who operates in Ruwi, said, “Such apps will not benefit us, as fares will increase significantly. We will lose passengers due to these changes. We are already facing challenges after COVID-19, and such steps only worsen our problems.
“We must also be considerate to passengers, many of whom are blue-collar expatriates. It would be unfair to them; they will have to pay nearly triple the fare for short distances.”
According MTCIT regulations set for Aber, fares begin at 300bz with an additional charge of 130bz per kilometre.
Ishaq al Shukeli noted that most taxi owners are not prepared for the app’s implementation. “I charge RO5 per person from Ruwi to Sur, but if I go by the app, it will cost more for passengers. Blue-collar expats will never pay such a high fare.”
(Contributed by Deeba Parween)