Over 3,000 private vehicles were seized in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, in 2019 after their owners were caught making use of them for the purpose of providing unauthorised lift services, say Abu Dhabi Police.
The drivers were found to have been picking up passengers by the roadside and then taking them to a number of destinations within the capital.
In total, 3,376 vehicles were seized over the course of 1,115 inspection campaigns that were performed in the emirate last year, according to police.
The operations were coordinated with the assistance of the Integrated Transport Centre.
Undercover officers were responsible for catching many of the motorists while they were dropping off or picking up commuters.
According to police investigations, most of the vehicles that offered unauthorised cab services were owned not by companies but by individuals, with owners even occasionally employing unlicensed drivers.
Commuters are usually transported from the city to areas on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, such as the Musaffah industrial area, Bani Yas and Mohammed bin Zayed City by unauthorised services, particularly at weekends.
Asian men made up the majority of the unauthorised drivers.
They were charging each passenger around Dh10 and were often carrying as many as four passengers at once.
The Criminal Security Sector director Brigadier General Mohammed Suhail Al Rashdi says that the illegal taxis are operated by drivers with neither the permission nor the licences needed to offer such services and in many cases do not have car insurance.
Warnings have previously been issued by the Department of Transport authorities about the dangers to commuter safety posed by illegal cabs, with many of the drivers unlicensed and possibly being illegal immigrants.
Officials have warned the public to avoid services such as these and to only use cabs that have certified licence plates.
Federal Traffic Law in the UAE states that there is a fine of Dh3,000 for being caught illegally transporting passengers as well as 24 traffic points and the vehicle concerned being impounded for up to a maximum of 30 days.
Drivers who do not have car insurance are breaking the law in the UAE regardless of whether or not they are providing unauthorised car lift services.
It is mandatory to have at least some basic form of third-party car insurance in the UAE in order to provide financial protection from liability in the event of a car accident.
There are, of course, much more comprehensive car insurance policies available from a number of different providers in the UAE – these are not mandatory but drivers may still wish to pay extra to get them.
These policies can provide protection from accidental road collisions with objects such as pillars, buildings, animals and other vehicles and can cover financial losses incurred by natural calamities or the likes of car theft or arson.
There are many car insurance companies in the UAE, with one of the country’s top providers being AXA.