World Bulletin/News Desk
Since last year, some 5,000 taxi drivers in İstanbul have been discharged from the profession as part of an initiative launched by the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality and the İstanbul Chamber of Taxi Drivers, Turkish media outlets reported on Tuesday.
As of last year, the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality began to ask taxi drivers for a copy of their criminal record. Roughly 5,000 drivers who either did not present evidence of a lack of a criminal record to the municipality or who had been convicted of a crime in the past have lost their authorization to work as a city taxi driver.
İstanbul Chamber of Taxi Drivers head Yahya Uğur said even drug addicts were eligible to become cab drivers in the past since the drivers' criminal records were not requested.
Highlighting that the removal of taxi drivers with a criminal background increased customer satisfaction, Uğur said the chamber promised customers that they would make the profession prestigious again. “When we first took over the post [in the chamber], the profession of taxi driving had lost its [positive] reputation and the customers had lost their confidence in it,” he was quoted as saying in the Turkish media.
Uğur explained that after his chamber established a hotline for complaints and suggestions from customers, they faced a “dreadful” reality when the comments were evaluated. Among the most common complaints were fraud, including giving the customer counterfeit money, and mistreatment. “Then we decided that the driver profile had to be changed and went to the municipality to propose several projects. The İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality, which has always been helpful to us, made it obligatory for all taxi drivers to submit a copy of their criminal record. This way, those who have committed disgraceful offenses were discharged from this profession,” he said.
Customer complaints decreased dramatically following the municipality's move, Uğur said, adding that the next problem they wish to address is the fact that many drivers do not accept customers for short-distance rides.