Car lifts, unregistered taxis, or carpooling against payment: these seem like the perfect solutions in the face of a young public transportation system. But they are not perfect – these services are illegal, and can land you with hefty fines and even a jail term.
Dubai’s Roads and transport Authority (RTA) maintains a strict policy when it comes to illegal car rides. “Motorists using private vehicles as taxis and those offering car-lift services will face fines and deportation,” it has warned in the past.
“Motorists caught offering such service will be fined Dh5,000. Second-time offenders will be fined Dh10,000. And those who commit the offence twice in a year will be handed over to the police and deported,” was the warning.
But this does not seem to scare away commuters from trying alternatives to public transportation. Car lifts, especially, are a popular service, suiting the needs of many who travel on a daily basis, but do not have a car.
“For me, it is a very good solution. My colleague picks me up on his way to work, and I pay him an amount of money per week to share the gas. It is a fair deal to me,” says H.K., a Syrian working and living in Dubai.
“I have a standard driver. I pay him an amount of money per month. And whenever I need him, I can call him to go wherever I want. He is reliable and will always come,” says I.K., an Indian man working and living in Dubai.
A quick search on one of the classifieds websites in the UAE will result in many options. There are those offering the service between two particular places, and those who offer to drive wherever you need. For every location in Dubai, there seems to be an option.
However, this is exactly what the inspectors do. A Pakistani driver tells how he was fooled by an inspector and caught: “I was offering car lift services from International City on a classifieds website. One day I was contacted by a man, who wanted a car lift to Dubai Media City. Once I met him, he identified himself as an inspector. I was fined Dh4,000.”
Another driver says how he was followed by an inspector last Friday after he had picked up his customer. “I stopped over at a bus stop to meet the person I was supposed to give a car lift. As soon as I took off, I was followed by a car. I was pulled over and fined Dh4,000 for providing an illegal car ride. I was also warned that next time I was caught, my driving license would be confiscated,” says the Indian.
The rules are such to protect people from allowing potential criminals inside the car, as passengers may be exposed to theft or face other risks.