Dubai: Filipinos have been urged not to illegally transport passengers or patronise illegal transport for their own safety.
Barney Almazar, a licensed UAE legal consultant who helps Filipinos in the UAE, reminded his compatriots to only use legal public transport and urged drivers not to resort to offering illegal “car lift” services.
The advisory was issued after three drivers sought his advice on how to get fines they had received from the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) reduced.
“The driver is an engineer whose work requires him to drive from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. He is issued a company car and gets a regular fuel allowance from his company. But on the side, he offers a ride to passengers going to Abu Dhabi from Ibn Battuta Mall at Dh25 per person,” Almazar told Gulf News.
“He was flagged down four weeks ago and was fined Dh20,000 by RTA. He was told that if he was caught violating again, he’d be deported,” he said. “Alarmingly, this is the third case I’ve encountered in recent months.”
Almazar said the driver appealed for his fine to be reduced, but RTA required his sponsor to issue the letter of appeal.
“That meant his company had no idea that he was using his company’s car for his private business. He couldn’t inform his company because he could lose his job,” Almazar said.
“He ended up borrowing money to pay the fine and get his licence back — an extra expense that he could have avoided from the beginning.”
In Dubai, transporting passengers in vehicles not licensed for this purpose within the emirate or to any other emirate invites a penalty of Dh20,000 while illegal transport firms can be slapped with a Dh50,000 fine. The penalties were increased to curb passenger ‘smuggling’, a common practice among many Asian drivers.
Public transport is state-regulated, regularly inspected, and installed with speed limiters for the safety of passengers. Private cars are not subject to these checks and could potentially endanger passengers’ lives.
This is a risk no one needs to take since there are plenty of public transport options in Dubai, Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes said. “Car lift or riding in a vehicle with someone you don’t know without a corresponding fee is definitely not allowed under UAE or Dubai laws. This is reserved for taxis. Doing so does not provide appropriate insurance to the passengers and, when an accident happens, securing payments or remuneration will be difficult, putting these passengers in a more difficult spot,” Cortes told Gulf News.
Thomas Edelmann, Road Safety UAE’s founder and managing director, said since regulated car pooling options exist in the UAE, “passengers should stay away from non-licensed operators in order to protect their safety and to avoid consequences in case of accidents”.
How to car pool legally:
Carpooling, which is the shared use of a car, especially for commuting to work, is allowed in Dubai. This is actually encouraged in order to reduce overall traffic congestion on Dubai roads and reduce single-occupancy car trips, hence saving carbon emissions, among other reasons. But this is to be done through the RTA app called the Sharekni system.
1) Download the app
2) Create a profile
3) Register your vehicle(s) and passengers
4) Create your route