Self-employed taxi drivers detained and fined in Ashgabat

Ashgabat drivers complain that they are now being stopped and fines imposed more frequently by road police officers.

When a customer gets into the car, a road police officer stands nearby.As soon as the car moves, he stops the car and demands that a permit for rendering private taxi services be presented.

If such a certificate is missing, the driver is invited to the road police vehicle with the internal revenue service officer, the transportation ministry official and the road police officer on the back seat.

Each of them issues a fine, altogether amounting to 750 manats ($115 using the “black market” exchange rate).

In case a fine is not paid, the car is transported to the fee-based car pound located opposite residential district MIR-4, an Ashgabat taxi driver told “Chronicles of Turkmenistan”.

If a taxi is repeatedly detained, the fine will amount to 3800 manats ($585 using the “black market” exchange rate). If the incident occurs for the third time, the fine is even higher and the driver is subsequently deprived of his driving license for three years.

On the other hand, a permit for rendering private taxi services is almost impossible to obtain. The official authorities do not issue them for various reasons and when, due to high unemployment, residents are obliged to make a living by offering private taxi services huge fines are imposed on them.

For instance, in order to obtain a permit for rendering private taxi services in 2016 the Ministry of Transport and Internal Revenue Service charged 4000 manats ($615 using the “black market” exchange rate), after which a one-year permit was issued to the driver.

Due to the high cost of the official permit few people willing to provide taxi services sought to obtain it.

For the time being such a “clamp-down” campaign against illegal drivers is not all-pervasive.However, rumours have spread and now the taxi drivers are operating more cautiously.

For instance, they do not take a customer if they spot a road police inspector nearby.Taxi drivers treat this as a new way of money extortion from residents.

It appears that this is done to urge residents to use the services of state-run taxis, the source told our editorial board.

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