Qatar plans to set up its own taxi company to improve public cabs and services that the government considers an important element of the tourism sector.
Qatar's Higher Planning Council is studying the plan, transport officials said. Once approved, the company could be working in a few months.
New cars will be bought and distributed among a network of transport companies to be established by the parent company, said Abdel Rahman Al-Najjar, general-director of tourism transport in Qatar's National Hotel Company which is overseeing the government plan.
The parent company is expected to modernize the transportation network and upgrade services, Al-Najjar said.
Al-Najjar had no immediate financial details of the cost of such a company, but said that in its first stage, the government plans to buy 500 new cars from local dealers and gradually increase its fleet.
He said the company would renew the taxis every three years. Sources working with the plan put the cost at over $8 million.
It is expected to draw opposition from the 15,950 private taxi drivers as a threat to their livelihood.
Al-Najjar said the government plans to rent the registration numbers of the private cabs for a monthly fee of $220 and $330. Private ownership of a public taxi is now limited and a registration number costs between $25,000 to $35,000.
Residents and visitors have criticized Qatar the poor taxi services in a country otherwise known for its cleanliness and modernity. The bad taxi image is not helping Qatar improve the tourism sector. "
In the capital Doha, taxis are old and battered - not the best image for an rich, oil producing nation," Al-Najjar said.
Al-Najjar said his company is also supervising the construction of several five-star hotels in Qatar and runs a fleet of limousines. –(Albawaba-MEBG)
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