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Police impound metre-shy cabs

 KUWAIT CITY, May 12: Taxi drivers have been avoiding the Philippine Embassy area in Faiha in the morning these days after a number of taxis have been impounded by some traffic policemen in plainclothes who position themselves in the embassy vicinity.

Embassy bystanders disclosed to the Arab Times on Monday that around two or three policemen wearing civilian clothes usually flag down a passing taxi or approach a taxi dropping a passenger at the embassy and pose as a passenger and ask the driver how much he charges or if he uses the taximetre.

As per Kuwait Traffic Department rule, all taxi in Kuwait should install taximetre in their cars, however, some drivers do not use the taximetre as some passengers try to haggle for the fare and opt not to use the taximetre. “Around a dozen taxis are being loaded onto the trailer daily for almost a month now in front of the embassy. Once the cop in civilian clothes discovers that the taxi is not using the metre, he will immediately flash his police badge, confiscate the driver’s license and take a photo of the taxi’s plate number before loading it to the trailer,” shared Jose, a taxi driver who drops some passengers at the embassy daily.

He added that sometimes the cops in plainclothes ask the passenger as he alights from the taxi, how much he paid the taxi. “Around 11 in the morning daily, the trailer comes and the taxis that were found not using the taximetre are loaded there.

This has been the scenario almost every day in front of the embassy for almost a month now,” informed John, another taxi driver. He added that most taxi drivers are afraid now to take passengers to the embassy in the morning. Raj, a taxi driver, whose car was impounded, lamented about the tedious process of retrieving his car from the impounding area aside from the KD2 daily penalty that the car will incur if it is not retrieved from the yard in addition to the penalty for not using the taximetre. “This is a very big problem for me.

I have to remit KD7 everyday to my taxi company so just imagine how much I have to pay if the my car stays in the yard for one week and I can’t also do anything because my license has been confiscated,” he pointed out. Kumar, another taxi driver, outlined that traffic authorities should implement the taximetre strictly in all areas and not only in certain areas. “Most of the time, the passengers don’t want to use the taximetre.

From Salmiya to Faiha, they usually pay KD1.5 and no one wants to use the taximetre. So what shall we do?” he stated as he stared at his car being loaded to the trailer. Inday Marzan who was rushing to the embassy to process some documents complained that she was running late after a lot of taxi drivers refused to take her to the embassy. “It’s good that the traffic cops are implementing the taximetre strictly but this has caused so much inconvenience to us because, no taxi would like to take us here.

I suggest the campaign must be extensive all over Kuwait so all taxis will be forced to use the taximetre and passengers will follow too and not haggle anymore,” she stressed.

By: Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff

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