Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 29 November 2020

RTA: Taxis not ordered off Dubai roads during storm peak

Transport officials insist taxis operated normally over the weekend

Dubai transport officials have hit back at claims taxi drivers were ordered off the roads and threatened with fines during heavy rain over the weekend.

Many residents in the city were forced to abandon their homes as water and sewage poured into properties with little or no warning.

Some members of the public who had no choice but to flee said they struggled to book a taxi to take them to safety.

They said drivers claimed to have been warned by their management they risked a Dh5,000 fine if their vehicle suffered water damage, rising to Dh7,000 for hybrid vehicles.

On Wednesday, officials at the Roads and Transport Authority, the emirate’s transport regulator, denied taxis had been told to stop working and threatened with fines if they became stuck in floodwater.

It said more than 759,000 taxi journeys were completed between Thursday and Saturday during the peak of the storms, down slightly from 827,000 during the same period the week before.

“There is nothing in the list of quality violations for taxi and luxury drivers stipulating that the driver will be fined Dh5,000, or any other amount, in the event of a vehicle breakdown due to extreme weather conditions or rainfall,” a spokesman said.

“It is an emergency beyond the control and responsibility of the driver.

“In the event of any complaint to refuse delivery [of a passenger], the RTA verifies the case from the camera feed and refers the driver to investigation and penalty as per the applicable regulations.”

During two days of storms last week, many roads were brought to a standstill as flooding created major traffic congestion.

Police in Dubai responded to 1,880 accidents, 55 of which were serious, between Thursday and Saturday.

Videos of abandoned cars were posted on social media as the water levels rose. One image showed a taxi with water up to its windscreen.

After more heavy rain on Wednesday morning, forecasters said a period of calmer, more settled weather was now expected for the remainder of the week.

Thursday will begin with a cloudy start before temperatures rise throughout the day. The weekend is due to be sunny with light winds.

Updated: January 15, 2020 09:13 PM

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