New taxi companies offer peace of mind to Mogadishu residents

By Dahir Jibril in Mogadishu

June 14, 2013

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Two new taxi companies recently began operating in Mogadishu, looking to offer citizens safer, more reliable service.

Following the ousting of al-Shabaab from the Somali capital, increased security has allowed the creation of Mogadishu Taxi, the first company of its kind in 22 years. [AFP] Play Video
  • A Mogadishu Taxi operator drives a passenger in the Somali capital. Residents of Mogadishu can now order a cab by phoning a central office, which will then dispatch the closest driver. [Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP]

    A Mogadishu Taxi operator drives a passenger in the Somali capital. Residents of Mogadishu can now order a cab by phoning a central office, which will then dispatch the closest driver. [Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP]

Taxi services using clearly marked cars have not existed in the Somali capital for decades, but an improving business environment is paving the way for their return.

"Whenever I see a taxi service like this with security guarantees, I am encouraged to take it wherever I want to go," said Asha Omar, a 32-year-old mother of seven who lives in Hodan district. "Previously, I was afraid whenever I rented a taxi without anything to identify it."

Liban Ahmed Hassan, manager at Mogadishu Taxi, one of the two new companies, said improved security and higher demand encouraged him and his partners to launch the taxi service last month.

"We want to participate in re-building lost public services, helping to establish more Somali-owned businesses that revive other services," he told Sabahi. "We are hoping to see other companies like us that invest in building roads and recoup their investment from [users]."

"We also want to unite all taxis [drivers] under one single company to make them more profitable and provide the city of Mogadishu with reliable service," Hassan said. "Each former taxi owner who wants to join us will have to meet company policies."

Mogadishu Taxi has more than 100 vehicles, each emblazoned with two phone numbers that connect customers to dispatchers. Mogadishu Taxi charges a $5 flat rate to and from any part of the capital, while other independent taxis charge more than $15.

"Most [independent taxis] do not have clients who use their services daily. Our cheap taxi fare attracts regular customers and can earn those drivers more money [if they join us]," Hassan said.

The other company operating in Mogadishu is City Taxi, which rolled onto local roads in April with a fleet of ten vehicles, manager Ali Yare Gaani said. He recently returned home to Somalia from Sweden, where he had lived for 23 years. He said he wanted to do his part to help rebuild Somalia and restore peace.

City Taxi also charges riders $5 per trip, and hopes to expand its fleet, Gaani said.

"Whenever I need to hire a taxi, I call one of the new companies with which I have developed good relations. I save a lot of the money now," said Ali Abdi, a 30-year-old independent realtor in Mogadishu.

But even more important than his saving, he said, is his peace of mind. "I was always fearful whenever I used an independent taxi because their cars are unmarked," Abdi told Sabahi, adding that riding in some random stranger's car poses a threat to passengers.

The new cab services will greatly improve security in the capital, said Mursal Hassan, 65, who has driven a taxi in Mogadishu for 40 years.

"I was happy to see this type of service rollout [in Mogadishu], and even tried to reach out to the young men responsible for coming up with this wonderful idea to encourage them to continue their good work," he said. "If youth have been used for war and to destroy their country in the past, it is a thing to celebrate today if instead they are spearheading progress in their country."

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Reader's Comments

  • Mohamed abdullahi
    July 15, 2013 @ 10:20:12AM

    It is actually well and good. I expect we will achieve development and life to become better to the people of Mogadishu. It is good for you to install telephone services that will make easy for us to communicate with our people in Diaspora.

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