Air-conditioned (AC) buses ply routes across the country, but to catch a bus passengers have to wait for long in scorching sun in the absence of AC bus shelters.
Public transport company Mowasalat has set up AC bus shelters in select locations in Doha, but they are inadequate to meet the demand. Moreover, air conditioners in some of these facilities have stopped working or are faulty.
The problems of people using public buses and taxis often get ignored in Qatar, probably because only a small segment of the population is dependent on them. The transport sector remains heavily dominated by privately-owned vehicles despite efforts by the authorities to promote public transport.
Thousands of low-income single workers, who constitute the majority of bus passengers, are the worst sufferers. Summer is torturous for them as they are exposed to extreme heat both at their place of work and outside.
Their daily ordeal starts in the morning, when they are transported to their work sites in company buses, most of which do not have air conditioners. Exhausted after long hours of work, they are taken back to their camps in the same buses in the afternoon.
Only a few reputable companies provide AC buses to transport their workers during summer. No serious attention has been given to this issue despite the fact that it concerns the workers’ basic human rights.
“We do not need five-star services. We need only air conditioners in the buses,” was the response of a worker when interviewed by a local Arabic daily that carried a report on the issue recently.
“When all the vehicles keep their doors closed in summer, these hapless workers can be seen opening the windows of their buses to get some respite from the humid conditions inside,” wrote the daily.
Mowasalat recently offered a few air-conditioned buses for sale or hire for companies to transport their workers, but there were hardly any takers. This indicates that employers are not willing to spend anything extra for the welfare of their workers unless they are forced to do so by the authorities.
Mowasalat had said it would go ahead with the project and it hoped to get more customers in future. The company should not delay establishing more AC bus shelters across the country if it cares for the welfare of labourers and other passengers.