Recruits to pay deposit for UAE cabbie posts

2010-03-09 00:00

LOCAL drivers hoping to be recruited to drive for Emirates Taxi in the United Arab Emirates will need to pay R13 500 before they are taken on.

Mike Selby, a Pietermaritzburg resident, responded to a classified advertisement seeking male drivers between the ages of 25 and 50. Selby and other hopefuls were told to meet for a briefing two Saturdays ago, when they were addressed by the lawyers facilitating the recruitment.

“We were told to meet at a psychologist’s rooms, not even an office,” he said. “We were initially told we would just need to pay R6 000, but the lawyers said we had to pay R13 500.”

Selby said he was uneasy in the knowledge that South African taxi drivers have become stuck in the UAE without their passports, which were held by their employers.

Early this year, KwaZulu-Natal drivers were stranded in Abu Dhabi after being promised big salaries and luxury accommodation by Durban-based Hassina Travel. However, upon arrival in the UAE, the men were required to sleep in hostel-like accommodation and were paid the equivalent of R450 a month for their services.

Sayed Hakeem, general manager of Emirates Taxi, said the “South African agent gave the guys all kinds of false promises”.

Fawzia Khan of Fawzia Khan & Associates, the company now facilitating the recruitment, said the R13 500 fee is to ensure the incident is not repeated.

“The sum of R7 500 ensures the drivers can return to South African when they wish, for whatever reason,” she said. “It is a safety measure, so no recruit has problems like the previous ones.”

The rest of the money is used as a deposit in case successful candidates do not see out their probation period of six months. Each contract runs for three years, with an option to renew.

Khan said that unlike the previous recruits who were paid R450 monthly, “wages are commission-based, and a recruit will earn an estimated R6 000 to R10 000 per month, excluding tips”.

In response to the “labour camps” recruits were made to stay in, Khan said: “Mandatory training will take one month and cost R1 500. Recruits will stay in a hostel then. Thereafter they are welcome to find alternative accommodation and will not be forced to stay anywhere they do not wish.”

As for the psychologist’s office, he said, it was merely a Pietermaritzburg venue used by the Durban-based law firm to brief interested parties who had responded to the advertisement.

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