DOHA 3 July 2013: A circular issued by the Department of Traffic to driving schools asks them not to register labourers from July 1 to learn to drive light and heavy vehicles and seek licences.
The move to bar labourers from obtaining light and heavy vehicle driver’s licences is part of the government’s campaign to ease traffic and chaos on Doha roads.
The ban, however, does not apply to those workers who are on personal sponsorship such as domestic helpers.
Labourers are also not barred from joining driving schools to obtain licences for motorcycles.
The rule applies to labourers across all sectors, including private companies that employ the largest number of unskilled foreign workforce, government as well as semi-government entities.
Domestic workers have, however, been spared as putting restrictions on them would lead to a severe shortage of drivers for Qatari families.
Driving schools said they wouldn’t be affected by the ban as not many labourers were anyway seeking registration with them.
“Most of the labourers who come to us for registration are on personal sponsorship. They are not from companies or ministries,” said an official of a driving school. Mohamed Zain Ibrahim, the manager of Gulf Driving School, told this newspaper yesterday that they were, though, waiting to hear from the traffic authorities what categories of workers are to be included among labourers.
“Sometime, a labourer is a graduate, and whether semi-skilled workers like electricians and technicians are to be treated as labourers,” said Ibrahim. “This is not clear. For us, what is important is that workers on personal sponsorship have been spared,” said Ibrahim.
The Ministry of Interior under which the traffic department falls, has long been mulling ways to control increasing traffic congestions particularly on Doha roads. A committee was set up with members from the interior ministry (traffic department), Advisory Council, the Ministry of Municipality and Ashghal (the Public Works Authority), to study the problem of rising chaos on Doha roads and suggest solutions.
Among the various aspects studied by the committee was the policy of issuing driving licences to expatriates.
The panel called for a review of the policy and it is understood that the latest ban is a result of its recommendations.
Already, foreign workers who are here on temporary project visas are not issued driving licences anymore.