Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The best form of defensi?

Last Thursday afternoon, a guest at the Falling-Down Villa needed a taxi. Maffi mushkela; call Dubai Taxi on the mobile, and because they have the phone number registered with a physical street address, there'll be no difficulty for the driver in finding the place. At least, that's what's happened in the past. I didn't reveal the proposed desination. Previously Dubai Taxi had correctly inferred DXB Terminal 1. And we all know how important it is to get there on time.

"Taxi in half an hour," I was told. A round of coffee and an hour later, I rang again.

"Stuck in traffic. Taxi definitely within fifteen minutes. Promise."

Two hours after that, and unable to get past the 'Busy' tone at Dubai Taxi, I was forced to launch the Goatmobile into the Thursday evening traffic. Owing to bad planning and mismanagement, the Emirates Road was closed. Mughluq. All the northbound traffic was being diverted into Al Qusais. Meanwhile, Sharjah-bound commuters heading to the Emirates Road from Nadd Al Hamar and Rashidiya were prevented from joining and were diverted into Mirdif, and then into Al Qusais. Every road was chockablock.

Small wonder the taxi hadn't turned up. It was presumably snarled up in the gridlock, assuming that it had been despatched at all.

It eventually took me three and a half hours to get the 22km and drop off my guest, before sallying forth back into the evening mayhem to get back to Mirdif. My plans for that Thursday evening did not include travelling at less than 4mph. That delight is reserved for boating on England's inland waterways.

During one of the protracted sessions of stationary traffic where six lanes of cars and buses attempted to insert themselves into a single lane, I finally managed to get through on the phone to Dubai Taxi. "It's been four hours since you first told me 'thirty minutes'. Where's my ride?"

"Your taxi is soon coming, sir."

"I wouldn't bother. Four hours is too long to wait. Cancel it."

"Righto, sir."

This, then, is the state of public transport in Dubai. It all uses the roads that are in semi-permanent gridlock whenever anything (rain... Dubya... roadworks...) slightly unusual occurs. Buses don't venture out of Dubai and taxis are impossible to book. Believe it or not, I actually have some sneaking sympathy with taxi drivers who face the chaos all day every day, and I even understand a desire not to pick up a client in Mirdif on Thursday evening. But if that is the case, the controller at Dubai Taxi should explain that "because of the traffic we're sorry, but it won't be possible to get a car to you before 9pm." Deliberately and repeatedly lying to customers is completely and unutterably reprehensible. As indeed is showing a total lack of concern or remorse.


Mme Cyn said...

The worst thing about it is that we have no recourse. Sure, there are taxis driving around that say "Car Hire" or whatever on the side and aren't the usual yellow of the regular Dubai Taxis, but if you ring the number on the side of these so called independent(?) taxis, you still get Dubai RTA.

What is a customer to do? Like the gas stations who refuse to take credit cards (ALL of them in DXB)or the phone company which provides ghastly internet service, (and DU is just as bad and also govt owned) we can't vote with our pocketbooks. We have no choice -- such is the nature of monopolies.

i*maginate said...

Wot you complaining about?

It's no-one's fault if you just happen to realise taxis have five different coloured roof-tops and you lose something in one of them.

You can always call the hotline, reporting the colour of the roof, and they will promptly follow-up.

Keefieboy said...

Ouch! Has the RTA never heard of bus/taxi lanes? With retractable bollards that will only operate if it detects the glass tint to be less than 20%.

Anonymous said...

From an outlander's perspective, what condition were our respective countries in only 30 some years after formation? tmil


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