DOHA: About one-and-a-half months after implementing the government ban on issuing driver’s licences to certain segments of expatriate workers, driving schools say that the decision has hit them hard, causing a major decline in the number of their customers.
Some schools say that the number of trainees has dropped by 30 to 40 percent while some others put it at 15 to 20 percent.
The decision apparently has resulted in shorter waiting lists in driving schools and faster enrolment for admission-seekers who are eligible for a licence.
Given the significant drop in the number of applicants, driving school officials believe that the ban could have a positive role in reducing traffic congestions in Doha and other cities.
The ban applies to more than 160 categories of expatriate workers, most of whom belong to the blue-collar segment. The list also includes categories such as typists, translators and some sections of salesmen. “We have seen a drop in the number of trainees by 30 to 40 percent since the decision was implemented. This is natural because labourers form a major segment of our students,” Adil Saleem, manager of Al Raya driving school told this daily yesterday.
He said initially there was confusion among the schools as well as licence seekers about the categories included in the ban.
“This problem has almost been solved after the Traffic Department issued a full list of the job categories,” said Adil.
A source from another driving school said, the list, in Arabic is vague on some categories but a representative of the Traffic Department is available in every school to clarify on such issues and decide on the applications.
The source claimed that the impact of the decision on new enrolments was not as severe as was initially expected. He, however, admitted that waiting time for new admission-seekers has significantly come down after the new decision.
A senior official of the Gulf Driving School said the decision had caused a decline in the number of trainees by 15 to 20 percent. He was, however, hopeful that the government would review the decision once major construction works in the country are completed.
Some industry insiders have expressed the view that the decision will have a negative impact on companies that have employed a large number of labourers.
“The new decision could force companies to change the professions of some segments of their workers to make them eligible for a driver’s licence,” said an expert.