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Expat wanderer

New Driving License Restrictions to Ease Traffic in Qatar

It looks like rather than investing in better highways, Qatar will follow in Kuwait’s footsteps to restrict driver’s licenses. This is another example of a law that invites unequal enforcement. “Ambiguous” implies that the rule will not be applied to everyone, but will be subject to bribery and connections to the right people.

Why do I even care, you might ask. As a white Western woman, this rule won’t apply. I won’t be stopped in traffic stops; if I am, and can’t show a valid license, I will politely be told I need to get one. But I publish this because it isn’t fair. It applies to my fellow expat wives, as well as to the hairdresser who would come to my home to cut my hair, or the carpenter with his own little business who wants to deliver the new couch he made for me. And, if the traffic doesn’t get better by eliminating catagories of employment, the next step considered is often eliminating licenses for WOMEN.

If the taxi situation in Doha were not so abysmal, it could be bearable not to have a license, but once the state took over the taxi business and ruthlessly clamped down on independently owned and operated taxis, taxi transportation was no longer the blessing it once was. Even at the most posh hotels in town, you might wait an hour for a taxi to show up. Or maybe things have radically improved in the time since I have been gone, but I somehow doubt it.

From the Qatar Gulf Times:

Driving schools in Qatar have started  “implementing” the Traffic Department’s decision to make certain categories of expatriate workers ineligible for driving licences but there was some ambiguity in the whole exercise as the plan is in its initial phase, sources yesterday said.

According to an unofficial list those who are eligible include sales representatives, accountants, administrators, representatives, sales supervisors, receptionists, clearance agents and fitness trainers. Also, professionals like doctors, engineers, pilots, architects and lawyers will find no problem in getting a licence.

However, people who work as clerks, stewards, cashiers, salesmen, foremen, tailors, blacksmiths, masons, cooks, carpenters, plumbers, painters, electricians, mechanics, computer technicians, waiters, barbers, beauty saloon workers, store keepers, photographers and secretaries will not be issued driving licences.

People who are brought to the country on driver visas, whether they are sponsored by companies or individuals, will not find it difficult to get a licence, the source said.

An employee of a driving school said the Traffic Department had yet to issue an official and final roster of categories that will be allowed to apply for a licence.

“Right now, they are in the process of  implementing the new rule and so there is some ambiguity,” he said.

The licensing section of the Traffic Department had earlier issued a circular limiting the issuance of driving licences to certain categories of expatriate workers. The move is aimed at easing traffic congestion on Qatar roads.

The source also referred to  another change in policy where students who failed the road test four times might  not be given a fifth chance anymore.

He  disclosed that there was a plan to ban  old cars on Qatar’s roads. “The new rules will be implemented very strictly.”

Earlier reports said that the Central Municipal Council (CMC) members had welcomed the move, saying it would significantly contribute to reducing the growing number of new vehicles on roads, which was cited as one of  the major causes of traffic jams.

The source said the Traffic Department will also study the impact of the new rule  in the coming months.

July 11, 2013 - Posted by | Bureaucracy, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Qatar, Social Issues, Survival, Technical Issue, Transparency, Values, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues

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