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December 3 2021 2:28 AM ˚
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Taxis struggle to compete with ‘safer-feeling’ ride-sharing apps

taxis in amman
(Photo: Shutterstock)
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AMMAN — The yellow taxi was one of the only available transportation methods for Jordanian residents and tourists for a long time. But with the emergence of convenient ride-hailing applications, the cab sector seems to be steadily losing passengers.اضافة اعلان

While taxi drivers complain of the turn to mobile apps like Careem, Uber, and Jeeny, users say that the government has “failed in controlling” the yellow taxi drivers, as they collectively agreed that there is no law, system, or control over the service.

“The driver picks his customers, mostly females, according to their physical appearances, only to make them feel uncomfortable and harassed during the ride,” said Aya Kloob, who regularly rides in yellow cabs. “The taxi meter is never turned on, there is no price control whatsoever, let alone the hygiene of both the taxi and the driver.”

Likewise, Mohannad Sarrawi told Jordan News that he does not mind paying a slightly higher fare with car-hailing applications than he would for a yellow taxi, to guarantee that his daughters are “in safe hands.”

“I had to sell my car this June because of the rough financial situation imposed by COVID-19,” he said. “My daughters then started to use yellow cabs to go to work. In less than a week, one of my daughters told me that the driver harassed her.”

Sarrawi explained that the ride-hailing applications provide riders with names and contact information of their drivers, which “gives us the opportunity to legally charge captains if lost items or sexual harassment cases happened.”

Users also allege that yellow taxis are more likely to scam riders, arbitrarily increasing the price as they wish. “We’re not going to leave tourists and citizens under the mercy of yellow cab drivers for them to increase the fare as they wish,” said Zaid Salameh, a driver for ride-hailing apps. “This is utterly disrespectful and ruins the country’s reputation.”

“Check social media accounts and YouTube channels of vloggers that have been to Jordan: they all complain that taxi drivers here took advantage of them and charged them an incredibly higher fare,” he said. “This will reach to their followers who will automatically avoid Jordan as a tourist destination.”

But the representative for taxi drivers disputed this characterization of his sector. Moa’ath Al-Sareesi, head of the Yellow Taxi Association, told Jordan News that they are “sick of these individual cases being generalized to the entire sector.” He believes these stories are part of a plan to damage the yellow cabs’ reputations — because otherwise, the “significantly cheaper” taxis would have an advantage over ride-hailing apps.

The yellow taxi sector used to be managed by the Public Security Directorate. In 1996, both the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Interior jointly managed the sector, which made things “unnecessarily complicated,” according to Sareesi.

“We do not have any official entity to manage us,” Sareesi said. “No ministry is willing to manage us and report our needs and violations. The ministries of interior and transportation involved Greater Amman Municipality in managing our sector. The ball got lost in three playgrounds.”

“Ride-hailing applications are constantly violating the law, but it seems like the government is fine with it,” he added. “They do not commit to the night fare, they’re not committing to the limited numbers provided by the law, and they violate law,” Sareesi claimed.

He described multiple crimes that have been committed against yellow taxi drivers by customers as well, including robberies and running without paying the fare. He argued that people realize the bad reputation of workers of that sector, and take advantage of it.

“We only want to be managed by one entity, and to get included in labor laws, to get the basic rights of any worker in the world, including a social security subscription, insurance, and a representative to defend our cause, and charge those who are ruining our reputation.” 

Ride-sharing behemoth Uber first obtained a license to work in Jordan in 2015. Since then, the app has announced its intention to partner with 100,000 drivers by 2025. Notably, on some ride-sharing apps, users can order yellow taxis as well as regular cars.

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