But new rules also slash expatriate licence renewal time from ten to two years
Omani women to take the wheel of taxis and heavy good vehicles
The Omani department of traffic police released a statement on Monday announcing that from March 1 women will be allowed to drive taxis and heavy good vehicles.
The initiative is "part of the government's drive to give women equal business and employment rights," read the statement.
Restrictions for new drivers will also bee introduced with new licences having only a one-year validity period before having to renew it, rather than the previous ten-year one.
Traffic rules for expatriate drivers also underwent changes on Sunday when their validity was reduced from ten to two years. This new rule will also come into effect on March 1.
Seat belt regulations have also become more stringent. It will soon become mandatory for passengers in the back seats to wear seat belts — currently, only front seat passengers are required to buckle up. Child seats will also become obligatory for all children under the age of four.
Women have applauded the ban lift that will allow them to drive taxis and heavy good vehicles.
“This is good news. I will be the first one to apply for the taxi licence. Women too need a chance to earn a living from driving taxis,” said Rahma Al Khalidi. Ms Al Khalidi, a 26-year-old school dropout, has been unable to find work since leaving school at the age of 17.
Road traffic experts say that some of the new rules have been imposed to reduce the number of accidents.
“We have an appalling record of road accidents in Oman. New drivers are reckless and people are careless when it comes to seat belts,” Mohammed Al Shaikh, of the Oman Automobile Association told The National.
Some expatriates believe that slashing their licence renewal time from ten to two years is an attempt to create greater revenue for the government.
“I think this is inspired to the fact the government is losing revenues from oil and it wants to compensate elsewhere,” Ramesh Harandes, an Information Technology engineer, said.