Dubai's transport authority has announced new penalties to deter private vehicle owners from offering illegal taxi services in the emirate.
The Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) said in a statement that it is beefing up its campaign to crackdown on the practice of providing illegal rides which undercut normal taxi fare rates.
"The Public Transport Agency has set out new plans to tackle this phenomenon as of the start of this year," said Ahmed Al Hammadi, acting CEO of RTA Public Transport Agency.
He added that new deterrents have been introduced to include impounding vehicles used by offenders, levying hefty fines and repatriating or imprisoning repeat offenders.
"Moreover, fines will also be imposed on brokers who collect and direct potential riders to private vehicles providing this sort of unlawful transport," said Al Hammadi.
"The procedures we intend to adopt have been considered in response to the alarming rates of this phenomenon triggered by an upsurge in the number of illegal workers, increase in the number of tourists heading to the emirate, and the lucrative gains made by these offenders," he added.
Statistics show that 3,479 offences were reported last year, up from 2,447 in the previous year.
Al Hammadi said inspectors were being deployed to apprehend offenders in coordination with the police and other authorities.
The RTA's taxi unit clocked AED214.3m ($58.2m) net profit in 2012, up from AED146m for the previous year.
It said total operational revenues of the Dubai Taxi Corporation reached AED1.09bn last year, a marginal rise on the AED1.05bn seen in 2011.
Dubai taxis completed a total of 37.25 million trips at a daily average of 111,528 trips in 2012, nearly four million more than the previous year.
The number of passengers lifted by DTC cabbies last year touched 74.5 million passengers compared with 67.1 million in 2011, a growth rate of about 10 percent.