Sunday, December 6, 2009

Amsterdam taxis are the worst in the world

A few years ago the business of taxis in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has been liberalized.
Before, there were only a few companies that were licensed to operate taxis.
And each taxi driver had to pass strict examinations before to be employed in this profession.
But after the liberalization anybody could pretend to have a taxi and offer services.
It was just a matter of putting a sign on the roof of a car and a taximeter inside.

This resulted in an explosion of taxis in Amsterdam.
The drivers are people from Turkey, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq who have fled their countries to find refuge in the Netherlands.
Often without proper documents.
Often unable to speak the language of the Netherlands or even English.
Most of the time having no knowledge whatsoever where streets in Amsterdam are.

In a short time the taxis of Amsterdam became known as the worst in the world.
A major reason was the aggression.
Physical and verbal aggression.
Among the taxi drivers competing for the customers.
And between the taxi drivers and the customers who are constantly overcharged, cheated and harassed in other ways.
Especially single female customers.

The climax was some months ago when an unsatisfied and complaining customer was beaten to death by his Amsterdam taxi driver.
Not the first victim suffering of injuries by the taxi boys.

It was around 2 am.
In front of Central Station in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
A taxi was needed to go to the hotel.

A lot of taxis were available.
It was a hectic, strange and scaring situation.
Without asking, men approached inquiring what was the desired destination.
Not that these men were of any assistance.
They only tried to find out if the customers represented a profitable ride.
If it was to be close to the railway station, it was not interesting.
And no taxi would offer services although by law that is obliged.

Hearing where the passengers needed to go, they were send away.
But because a taxi was needed, the first in line was approached.
A man helped the passengers into the taxi that was a small van.
The driver was a man probably from Kosovo or Afghanistan and was unable to speak much Dutch.
The street of destination was "de Koninginneweg".
And although the name of this street was repeatedly very clearly pronounced, the taxi driver was unable to understand.
He would repeat the name, but it was far from correct and therefore not making sense.
Therefore, the two passengers were in a situation of being in a taxi in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, together able to speak five different languages, but the bloody taxi driver could not understand where to go.
It took a long time before it seemed he got it but it was still unclear he really understood.
He did have a Tom-Tom but didn't use it: for him it would have been probably too complicated to put in the name of the street with the correct spelling.
He started driving and immediately it was noticed no taximeter could be seen.
Knowing the reputation of the Amsterdam taxis, it was rather essential to have a taxi meter in the car.
Otherwise at the destination a very bad financial surprise would be presented by the driver.
It was found that the taxi meter was hidden behind some other objects: obviously done on purpose so that the passengers had no clue how much was charged.
Looking carefully by raising the body and moving the head forwards, it could be seen that although the journey had not been more than less than half a mile, the meter was already at the amount of € 12,70 ($19).
Obviously something was very wrong.
A case of cheating going on.

Therefore it was decided to leave the taxi right away.
More trouble was to be expected and overcharging for sure.
The driver was informed, the door opened while the taxi driver started screaming and yelling.
The male passenger could leave the taxi without problem but the woman was grabbed by her clothes by the taxi driver and made to stay inside the car.
He demanded that first money had to be paid before she could regain her freedom.
A dramatic situation.
That easily could escalate.

The taxi driver holding the woman radioed his friends informing he had a conflict.
They told him to return to the taxi stand where they could assist him.
This is what he did.
The male passenger outside on the pavement, the sliding door open, the woman passenger grabbed by her clothes unable to move, he drove away.
Back to where he started.

Walking to the taxi stand the woman was found standing there.
She had paid the taxi driver to be able to get out.

This story happened two nights ago to the pioneering photographer and one of his female friends.

1 comment:

raj said...

this is crazy. doesnt happen even in india!!