Behind the wheel: Pink twice

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By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter  www.gulfnews.com

Dubai:  Dubai is looking for more female taxi drivers as the highly successful Pink Taxi fleet is set to double to 50 in the next few months, a senior official said.

Featured Transportation  32-300x207 Behind the wheel: Pink twice
* Mary Rose Tejero, left, Olga Shomina, centre, and Najla Omar, proud Pink Taxi drivers * Image Credit: Xpress/FRANCOIS NEL

We have 65 Pink Taxi drivers and plan to hire 52 more,” said Yousuf Al Ali, Director of Fleet Processes and Operation Department at the Dubai Taxi Corporation.

The company has a fleet of 3,504 cabs, of which 24 are Pink Taxis, which they plan to double.

Al Ali said female cabbies are popular among lady passengers and families as they are at ease with them. “Due to cultural factors, women are comfortable with female drivers,” said Al Ali. “Many Westerners visiting Dubai for the first time are surprised to see they can opt for female taxi drivers.”

The drivers come from a dozen nationalities who work from 6am to 2am in two shifts. They are covered by a health insurance and an honouring programme. They also get 30-day annual leave, a one-day weekly off and a basic pay of Dh1,500, a month, but may earn up to Dh4,000 on commissions.

Olga Shomina, 41, a Ukrainian, brims with confidence as she sits behind the wheel of a pink cab, a job she’s had for two years now. Explaining that it was important that passengers felt safe with them, the mother of two said: “Honesty is important in dealing with passengers. I’ve had luggage, wallets and bags that passengers left behind which I’ve handed over to the nearest police station.” Mary Rose Tejero, a 24-year-old Filipina, is true to her form: She wears a pink watch and a pink pair of shoes and socks, too, to match her uniform. “First impressions last. We consider ourselves as company ambassadors. I make sure my car is clean both outside and inside and smells fresh,” she said. Once a passenger gave her a tip of 50 euros (Dh234) after she returned her bag with cash, jewellery and her passport at the airport police station. “I didn’t want it, but my supervisor said it was OK to take the tip.”

JOB SATISFACTION

Nafisa Abdullah, 37, from Kerala, India, said: “I see to it that I make final checks in case the passenger has left something behind in my cab before I leave to avoid the trouble of having to go a police station.” However, sometimes it’s unavoidable. “Two passports and two visas were left in my cab one day… Our job is to inform our operations department and turn them over to police.”

Najla Omar, 27, an Ethiopian female cabbie in Dubai for three years, said she’s happy with her job, though she’s been fined for over-speeding during her first few months. “I’ve returned numerous mobile phones, wallets and some jewellery. When you return valuables, passengers appreciate the gesture though they do not know us,” she said.

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