Bahrain taxi firms hit by clashes
Manama, February 15, 2012
Bahrain's taxis claim rioters causing havoc on the streets have robbed them of customers, as business has dropped by 90 per cent since last year.
Some firms are now scared to travel into villages because of clashes between rioters and police.
They are urging authorities to be pro-active by sending warnings to cab companies ahead of planned marches or possible clashes in a bid to protect their drivers and customers.
Bahrain's streets experienced major tailbacks yesterday and on Monday amid calls for protesters to march to the former GCC (Pearl) Roundabout to mark the first anniversary of the February 14 unrest.
One operator said the majority of its Bahraini drivers refused to show up for work because they were afraid of protesters taking to the streets.
"Business has dropped by 90 per cent due to riots taking place every day and I don't know when we are going to recover from this crisis," said Bahrain Taxi Online administrator Waleed Fakhroo. "We have 50 drivers working with us and it's hard to get hold of them as they switched off their mobiles and didn't show up for work.”
"We avoid going to Pearl Towers, Reef Island, Budaiya, Ma'ameer, Sitra, Bilad Al Qadeem, Jidhafs, Khamis and other problem areas following road blocks and clashes between police and protesters.
"We try to work if possible and if the situation gets worse, we ask our drivers to stop working and face it."
Fakhroo described the panic drivers and customers faced when they tried to escape rioters, who surrounded them after roads were blocked in a move to stop them from getting to Al Farooq Junction.
"On Monday, the Shaikh Khalifa Highway towards Seef was blocked for more than one hour and customers suffered a lot as some had to stay in offices or homes as drivers were stuck on the bridge," he said.
"The drivers were unable to go over the pavement due to a large number of protesters and police everywhere. I even called three drivers to take one customer from the airport to Ma'ameer but no one agreed to go there."
Meanwhile, Arabian Taxi Company called on the Interior Ministry and the Traffic Directorate to protect people by alerting cab firms and the public of possible protests happening across the country.
"The authorities must announce and highlight these problems," said company general manager Ali Behlood. “We will still be working but we will avoid certain areas if we see rallies taking place or protesters blocking roads. Some drivers live in these areas and are not willing to go out anywhere due to the problems."
He also revealed there had been a massive drop in customers, as well as high levels of absenteeism among Bahraini drivers. – TradeArabia News Service