Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Taxi rage in Casablanca!

It's a matter of course for petit taxi drivers in Fez to put the meter on as the car sets off ... why, then, are taxi drivers in Casablanca and Marrakech so very obstreperous?

a petit taxi in Fez - Casablanca's are also red

When The View from Fez team visited Casablanca recently, we had plenty of fights with local taxi drivers who simply refused to use their meter. In fact, on emerging from Casa Voyageurs station, we picked not the man who shouted 'taxi!', but the one who shouted 'meter!'.

This kindly man, Ibrahim, explained to us that the fares stipulated by the city are too low to make it economical. So drivers would rather not use their meter and charge as much as they can get, which can be quite a bit when their passengers are unknowing tourists. It seems to us that it would be better for the city to allow the drivers to put their fares up, if it means that meters will be used. Meanwhile, the drivers are giving Morocco a bad name.

Marrakech is even worse. But we can report that in Fez and in Tangier taxi drivers DO use their meters and are courteous and polite. It is to be hoped that the authorities crack down on the rude and arrogant Casa taxi drivers, for, as one American tourist told us - "To have to deal with a dishonest taxi driver on your first day in a country, leaves a very bad impression."


Qureshi said...

The using of metiers is always a matter of dispute in developing countries. Sometimes taxi drivers refuse to use metiers or sometimes their speed is fast even faster than the taxi.

Miles Smiles said...

One problem in Casa is that the congestion means slower moving traffic and less earnings for the drivers there.
That said, at Casa Voyagers I find it better just to walk out to the main road in front of the station and catch a passing a taxi there.
Also watch out for drivers setting the meter to the night time rate during the day.

Helen Ranger said...

Thanks for the comments. One thing that will make a difference to traffic congestion in Casablanca is the tramway, destined to open in 2012. Our taxi driver told us that it wouldn't make much of a difference to his income, as the tramway is aimed at people living in the suburbs who need to come into town for work. They don't usually use taxis to do so.

Anonymous said...

It is in fact outrageous. However, I do support the Taxi drivers in their cause. I'm currently in Agadir, and the taxis charge almost the double for the same distance you would want to go in Casablanca.


Joel said...

The Casablanca and Marrakech taxi drivers are a disgrace. Something needs to be done to stop their rude behaviour. Also the police need to stop motorbikes in the Fès Medina.

Piggy said...

Its been like this in Casablanca for years. The authorities must know about it and I guess are happy for the situation to continue. It has put me off ever going back to Casablanca.
I am not alone - friends have had the same problem and fights with Taxi drivers in Casablanca.
Only a matter of time before all taxis find out they can get away with it then Morocco will get a really bad name.

xoussef said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Driss said...

Duh! Xousef! That's the point! The freaking taxi drivers are ripping off gawri and giving us a bad name! I think the drivers should be banned from driving if they rip foriegners

xoussef said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am a foreigner but living in Marrakech. Actually, I find the taxis here are pretty good for using their meters at many spots around the city - it is not often that I need to ask them to turn on the meter, and fairly rare now that they refuse, and I then have to get out of the car. BUT, this is partly because I know how it is supposed to work, I catch taxis in places that locals go, and perhaps also because I greet drivers using Moroccan Arabic, etc, which signals that I know how it is supposed to work.
However, the places where you are most likely to find the dishonest drivers who do not use meters, and their touts, are the airport, and the Djemm al Fna square - often the only places in Marrakech where some tourists go.
Accordingly, if the city/country wants to make a better impression on tourists, attention needs to be given to monitor the situation in those two key locations. At the airport, there are the dishonest petits taxi drivers and their touts, who wait right at the sign "Petits Taxis". It is only if you wait a ways down from this sign that you will encounter the honest drivers who will turn on the meter. But visitors don't know this, and airport security does not care - I asked for some assistance one time when no honest taxi drivers were coming by, and the security guard just shrugged. (At least now, at the Marrakech airport, there is also a regular and well-marked bus right outside which runs directly to the square, and clearly advertises its cost at 20 dhs/2 Euros, which seems very fair). Similarly, outside the two key entrances to the square, the dishonest touts are waiting to usher tourists into taxis at inflated prices, whereas if you simply walk across the street to where more petits taxis are lining up, you will find the ones who turn on their meter. In the meantime, the gendarmerie regularly in that spot, directing traffic, apparently do nothing to curb the dishonest trade.
Long story short, if the city or government is interested in repairing the reputation of dishonesty that many travelers are still met with when they arrive in the city, they need to better use local staff to regulate the trade outside key tourist locations. A sign upon leaving the airport, advising visitors of the city's taxi policies would also be useful.