x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

RTA seeks to tighten minibus licensing

Dubai transportation officials are considering more stringent requirements for minibus drivers after a string of serious accidents.

DUBAI // Transport chiefs are considering more stringent licensing requirements for minibus drivers after a string of serious accidents, according to a senior transport official. Dubai has witnessed two major minibus accidents in the past month that left six people dead and 20 injured, the majority of whom sustained brain damage and multiple fractures. Minibus drivers do not have to take a special test; the only requirement is that they possess a valid light vehicle licence proving that they have been driving in the UAE for at least three years. "Bad driving behaviours need actions after training and getting the licence, and this is what we are working on in our strategic plan for the year 2009-2010," said Ali Abdullah Jassim, the director of licensing at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). "Among the things being considered is the introduction of a 'certificate of professional competence'." According to Mr Jassim, this certificate will be required for "any driver who intends to take up driving as a profession, especially if the vehicle is designed for transporting people". Currently, anyone wishing to drive a minibus seating between seven and 14 passengers need only present the valid light-vehicle driving licence, an original passport, a no-objection letter from their sponsor and the vehicle registration. They will be granted a licence on the spot permitting them to drive such vehicles. "No training or testing is required," said Khalid Javid, the senior instructor from Emirates Driving Institute. "After providing the required documents, the licence can be issued on the same day." Some people, however, say that since driving a minibus is little different from driving a car, a separate test should not be necessary. "I drove a minibus full of people once, and I found it was very similar to driving a big car," said Rupert Chesman, a resident of Dubai, and owner of a 4x4 vehicle. "As long as you have good enough driving ability, and can drive a normal car, then it is not necessary to take a separate test to drive a minibus. Maybe the issue lies with the initial test." On March 23, two people were killed and 10 injured when a minibus carrying Asian construction workers crashed near Dubai Academic City. In February, a minibus crash in Dubai killed four people. nsamaha@thenational.ae