Abu Dhabi // In a reversal, the Emirates Identity Authority has agreed "to relieve the panic" at ID centres by allowing residents to register vehicles and obtain driver's licenses using their passports. The about-face comes after a mad rush of residents jammed Emirates ID card registration centres in recent days, following an announcement from the Ministry of Interior that ID cards would be required for traffic and licensing services beginning May 2. "We're just giving more time for the people to finish their procedures related to the traffic and licensing department, until they actually get their ID cards," Dr Ali al Khouri, the acting executive manager of the authority, confirmed today. While he assured that the county's 20 registration centres spread throughout the emirates were capable of accommodating people in need of cards to sort out vehicle licensing and registration procedures, the authority was not expecting the onslaught of other residents who arrived. "We wanted to clarify that we would have been able to accommodate all the numbers. The problem was that people were coming to apply for the ID card even if they didn't have any sort of urgent business," Dr al Khouri said. "It was just a panic issue. We were seeing that people were panicking for no reasons, coming for no reason." While Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority had previous said that the Emirates ID card would not be compulsory for such activities, that was not the case in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Al Ain. Residents last week queued up outside the capital's Al Mushrif ID registration centre as early as 4 am. Centres in quieter regions like Al Gharbia also required police for crowd control. "So to relieve the panic right now, we said we would waive anything and give them some more time to get the ID card," Dr al Khouri said. He added that the authority was currently working on reviewing the application process and would soon announce a new, more streamlined system. "We're having a new, more straightforward application form which is going to sort out the problems we've got right now," he said. "It's going to be ready very soon. We're talking about a matter of weeks." firstname.lastname@example.org
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