Plea for more female cabbies in Bahrain
Manama, June 24, 2010
An appeal has gone out for more Bahraini female cabbies to cope with massive demand from the public.
More than half of all customers using the Arabian Taxi Company request women drivers, general manager Khalid Amin said yesterday.
He said the firm did not have enough women behind the wheel to keep up with demand from both sexes, which he attributed to their punctuality, professionalism and attitude. 'If it was up to me I would fill the company with women drivers because they are punctual, have a great work ethic, are professional and efficient,' Amin said.
'They also have a better attitude than most male drivers and know how to handle customers.
'The company's customer base is mostly expatriates and tourists and I can safely say that more than 50 per cent of them prefer women drivers.'
Amin made his comments as he spoke to more than a dozen Bahraini women at the Supreme Council for Women (SCW) yesterday.
The SCW organised the gathering after 72 women showed interest in entering the transportation sector at the end of a jobs expo earlier this year. Only 22 of the Arabian Taxi Company's 140 drivers are women, but Amin said he wouldn't rest until he has 600 cabbies - with the majority being women.
'My hardest challenge is to employ people for this job because some look down at it and are embarrassed to do it, which is absurd,' he said.
'Others think it's simple and want to take an easy way out, without actually putting in effort and work.'
He also reassured women at yesterday's meeting that the firm's cabs were equipped with latest technology to ensure their safety at all times.
'By law we are not allowed to let our female employees work late hours, but the cabs are completely safe in any case,' said Amin.
'There is a barricade between the passengers and driver with only a small hole for exchanging money, and no one can sit in front because there is no seat.
'The driver is also in full control of the taxi and we have advised them to lock the doors and take customers to the nearest police station if they get shady with money or behaviour.
'But in the year-and-a-half we have been in business, we have never received complaints that customers have been inappropriate with female drivers.'
Amin also revealed the cabs would soon be fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, which would allow call centre staff to guide drivers to the exact location of their next customer.
'We have a call centre to help guide drivers to their next customer, which creates a balance between athose (drivers) with existing customer pools and those without,' he said.
'Now our new system will be launched in two weeks and it's important because it will show the location of the cab, whether it's in distress or if it has been stolen.
'If that happens, then we can switch off the entire car from our headquarters remotely.'
Amin said the firm offered a basic salary of BD210 a month, in addition to monthly and annual bonuses and flexible working hours.
However, he stressed that cabbies could earn much more by developing their own customer base.
'That's just a fixed salary, some of the women in the company earn more than BD600 monthly because of their large customer base and dedicated work ethic,' he added.
Meanwhile, female cabbie Mona Ahmed described her job as fulfilling - saying it brought in the cash she needed to support her family.
'I had several jobs before, but I was always forced to leave because I wasn't comfortable and I had various family commitments,' the mother-of-two told oru sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN).
'But this job is perfect because it's flexible.
'I love to drive and interact with customers and the company is oriented towards women's empowerment, because in the end it is helping those who need it to enter the workforce in a different field.'
The Arabian Taxi Company was launched in 2008 and 80 per cent of the shareholders are either retired cabbies, or relatives of taxi drivers who have died. The company, which only hires Bahrainis, operates using the taxi licences of retired or deceased cabbies - providing them or their relatives with a steady income.-TradeArabia News Service