MORE than 800 illegal taxi drivers have been arrested since the start of the year as part of a major crackdown.
As part of ongoing efforts to clamp down on illegal taxis, the Traffic Directorate said yesterday that 881 drivers have been arrested so far in 2018.
It also said that all legal proceedings have been taken against them and that they have been referred to the Public Prosecution.
“The directorate has been able since the beginning of this year to arrest 881 drivers of different nationalities, who practise the profession of transporting passengers without a licence,” said Traffic Directorate operations and traffic control director Lieutenant Colonel Adel Al Dossary.
“The administration continues to carry out its campaigns in all governorates throughout the year, especially in the location of taxis, in co-ordination with other security directorates in order to control the violations that threaten the livelihoods of workers in this sector who operate legally.
“The directorate will not tolerate any violation of the rules and regulations of the traffic laws, we have repeatedly noted through social media the dangers of these misconducts.”
For years authorised taxi companies have been complaining of mostly expatriate drivers using their private vehicles to offer services at cheaper rates in violation of the law.
However, it was previously claimed that unless efforts were made to increase the coverage area and reduce rates there would always be a need for illegal taxis.
Bahrain Taxi Online owner Waleed Fakhro told the GDN in February of this year that there were 967 licensed taxi drivers and 12 companies that total up to almost 1,500 taxi drivers – as opposed to almost 8,000 illegal drivers.
Public Transport Drivers Society chairman Mohammed Al Barboori also told the GDN previously that more than 1,000 taxi drivers were affected because of illegal taxis and private operators.
A total of 186 illegal taxi drivers of various nationalities were arrested between February 22 and June 30 last year, while traffic authorities said 217 illegal taxi drivers had been rounded up in 2016.
The GDN reported last year that expatriates in Bahrain could be forced to pay BD500 to obtain a driving licence under proposed amendments to the 2014 Traffic Law.
The amendments also state that foreigners have to pay BD50 annually to renew the licences. Expatriates currently pay BD20 – the same rate as Bahrainis – to get a new driving licence issued for five years and upon renewal pay BD12.
The amendments are still with the National Assembly.