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Maldives taxi booking app, failed

A taxi in capital Male. FILE PHOTO/MIHAARU

The original Dhivehi article was published on Avas.mv website on 4th October 2017.

The following is a loose translation:

It is close to impossible to find a taxi when it rains. What’s the explanation for this? The government has put in a lot of effort to solve the difficulties commuters faced to find a taxi. Tightened the taxi regulation. Tried to implement an online system for taxis like those used in foreign countries, to improve the quality of the service. Likewise, two companies were assigned to develop several mobile applications. However, the question is – along with these systems has there been any improvements?

‘I have to call up every day to get a taxi. I haven’t been able to make use of the mobile app,’ said a 40-year old female who regularly use taxi to go to work.

In order to improve the taxi service, two private companies had been assigned to develop taxi apps. One app is specifically for transport authority. The other app (KobaaTaxi) is used to provide taxi service to private taxi operating companies. However, we cannot see any of the systems working now. Question is, how many people book a taxi through the app? Now again we are back to hailing taxis from the street or booking one through taxi operators.

Frequent taxi users say that finding a taxi is back to as it was before.

‘There is no difference to now and then. After calling up and waiting in queue we are getting taxis. Most of the times after waiting in queue for several minutes they’d say no taxi,’ said Aishath Mohamed, a frequent taxi user.

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We can’t we find taxis?

There are 600 taxis registered to Malé and active. Yet, it is found that 400 taxis are regularly out giving the service everyday. And when it rains, the number is lesser. That’s why when it rains, when the demand is higher, it is painful to find a taxi.

A taxi driver revealed anonymously that taxis are hard to find as most are part time drivers.

‘Most taxi drivers are part timers. After day job, we taxi and when we earn from MVR 500 to 1000, that’s when we step down,’ the source revealed.

The other reason why it is too hard to find taxis in Malé is failure of public transport system. So, when there are too many motorcycles on the road, it restricts the private taxis from coming out onto the road. This is one major factor.

Another taxi driver said because of excessive amounts of motorcycles on the road and obstructing the way, it is difficult for cars to drive on the road.

‘Every household has 5 or 6 motorcycles, which takes up the road. The other issue is road closure for construction projects. When roads are closed it is difficult to drive’ one taxi driver said.

What happens is that while driving (a car) motorcycles hits and passes by. They won’t care. Our well-kept, polished cars get damaged. Therefore, we opt to go out during hours when the road is not packed or busy,’ said a taxi driver who had been taxiing for more than a year.

When the government introduced the taxi app they said it was a solution for all. And that it will reduce the complaints of the difficulties of finding taxis. However, the question is, do we see those changes?

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