Some Abu Dhabi taxi drivers are working dangerously long hours. (Delores Johnson / The National )
Some Abu Dhabi taxi drivers are working dangerously long hours. (Delores Johnson / The National )

Passengers’ safety must be the priority



Taxis are an essential part of the transportation mix in Abu Dhabi and across the UAE. They offer an efficient, modestly-priced means of getting around our ever-­expanding cities, and they help to minimise the number of private vehicles on our busy roads. But, as The National reported yesterday, there are concerns over the way the system operates, and disagreement about work practices between taxi drivers on one side and their employers and the industry regulator on the other.

The Centre for Regulation of Transport by Hire Cars (TransAD), and taxi companies say that many drivers are refusing to work under a two-shift system, where each vehicle would have two drivers per day. Their argument is that, after accounting for rest and meal breaks and handover time, this should ensure that no driver exceeds the UAE’s maximum prescribed work shift of eight hours. Some drivers say they need to work 13 hours a day or more to reach their targets and earn extra money from commission. Taxi operators say that no driver is forced to work long hours, and that some of them choose only to work during peak hours.

It is clear that both sides have a point. The taxi companies have a right to maximise the return they make on their vehicles by keeping them on the road 24 hours a day. The drivers have a right to earn a living wage – which, for most of them, means being able to keep themselves and remit money to support their families. It is in the interests of both sides to find ways that make it possible for all drivers to earn a fair wage from the mandated eight-hour day, allowing for one day off each week. If the double-shift system is to work, it must be structured in a way that gives all drivers the option of driving during the lucrative peak hours at least half of the time. The companies could also look at more efficient ways to connect taxis with potential passengers, and, if need be, restructure targets and commission rates, and perhaps even fares.

Prevailing over all of this is that passengers and other road users have the right to expect that taxi drivers are not working excessive hours and are alert at all times they are behind the wheel. A car can be a deadly weapon in the hands of somebody who is tired or stressed.

To do this, TransAD could look at using the technology that already exists in taxis to monitor taxi drivers’ hours and ensure they do not put lives – including their own – at risk.

David Haye record

Total fights: 32
Wins: 28
Wins by KO: 26
Losses: 4

RESULT

Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 0 Al Ain 6
Al Ain: Caio (5', 73'), El Shahat (10'), Berg (65'), Khalil (83'), Al Ahbabi (90'+2)

If you go

Flight connections to Ulaanbaatar are available through a variety of hubs, including Seoul and Beijing, with airlines including Mongolian Airlines and Korean Air. While some nationalities, such as Americans, don’t need a tourist visa for Mongolia, others, including UAE citizens, can obtain a visa on arrival, while others including UK citizens, need to obtain a visa in advance. Contact the Mongolian Embassy in the UAE for more information.

Nomadic Road offers expedition-style trips to Mongolia in January and August, and other destinations during most other months. Its nine-day August 2020 Mongolia trip will cost from $5,250 per person based on two sharing, including airport transfers, two nights’ hotel accommodation in Ulaanbaatar, vehicle rental, fuel, third party vehicle liability insurance, the services of a guide and support team, accommodation, food and entrance fees; nomadicroad.com

A fully guided three-day, two-night itinerary at Three Camel Lodge costs from $2,420 per person based on two sharing, including airport transfers, accommodation, meals and excursions including the Yol Valley and Flaming Cliffs. A return internal flight from Ulaanbaatar to Dalanzadgad costs $300 per person and the flight takes 90 minutes each way; threecamellodge.com

BOSH!'s pantry essentials

Nutritional yeast

This is Firth's pick and an ingredient he says, "gives you an instant cheesy flavour". He advises making your own cream cheese with it or simply using it to whip up a mac and cheese or wholesome lasagne. It's available in organic and specialist grocery stores across the UAE.

Seeds

"We've got a big jar of mixed seeds in our kitchen," Theasby explains. "That's what you use to make a bolognese or pie or salad: just grab a handful of seeds and sprinkle them over the top. It's a really good way to make sure you're getting your omegas."

Umami flavours

"I could say soya sauce, but I'll say all umami-makers and have them in the same batch," says Firth. He suggests having items such as Marmite, balsamic vinegar and other general, dark, umami-tasting products in your cupboard "to make your bolognese a little bit more 'umptious'".

Onions and garlic

"If you've got them, you can cook basically anything from that base," says Theasby. "These ingredients are so prevalent in every world cuisine and if you've got them in your cupboard, then you know you've got the foundation of a really nice meal."

Your grain of choice

Whether rice, quinoa, pasta or buckwheat, Firth advises always having a stock of your favourite grains in the cupboard. "That you, you have an instant meal and all you have to do is just chuck a bit of veg in."

Day 1, Abu Dhabi Test: At a glance

Moment of the day Dimuth Karunaratne had batted with plenty of pluck, and no little skill, in getting to within seven runs of a first-day century. Then, while he ran what he thought was a comfortable single to mid-on, his batting partner Dinesh Chandimal opted to stay at home. The opener was run out by the length of the pitch.

Stat of the day – 1 One six was hit on Day 1. The boundary was only breached 18 times in total over the course of the 90 overs. When it did arrive, the lone six was a thing of beauty, as Niroshan Dickwella effortlessly clipped Mohammed Amir over the square-leg boundary.

The verdict Three wickets down at lunch, on a featherbed wicket having won the toss, and Sri Lanka’s fragile confidence must have been waning. Then Karunaratne and Chandimal's alliance of precisely 100 gave them a foothold in the match. Dickwella’s free-spirited strokeplay meant the Sri Lankans were handily placed at 227-4 at the close.

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000