Saudi Arabia’s Transport Ministry has reportedly given taxi companies seven months to modernise their fleets or convert existing cars to private vehicles.
Local publication Saudi Gazette cited ministry spokesperson for the Makkah region Omar Bamasfer as saying vehicles used as taxis should be no older than six years from their manufacturing date.
He said 2010 model cars would be allowed to run until the end of 2016 and cars that had a road licence until after the date would be able to continue until this expired.
“Owners of cars that are not allowed to use as taxis can register them as private vehicles after paying the necessary fees, if any,” he said.
Regional transport departments will notify owners when their vehicle is due to expire.
The move is designed to reduce environmental pollution, improve the standard of taxi services and ensure the safety of passengers, according to the official.
Bamaster said the ministry received more than 30 calls a day about taxis in rundown conditions.
Inspections are also expected to intensify to catch violators of taxi regulation, with a fine of SAR 700 imposed if a car has an inappropriate appearance, SAR 300 for refusing service and SAR 1,000 for taking passengers to different locations at the same time.
Taxi companies in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to own more than 50 cars. The publication said there were 40,000 taxis in Jeddah, 35,000 in Riyadh and 25,000 in Dammam.