Expat motorists in Oman are facing tough new driving licence rules as part of a plan to restrict the number cars on Muscat’s roads.
After speaking to a senior official at the Royal Oman Police (ROP), a local newspaper reported that Oman was considering tough new rules for expat motorists applying for a driving licence.
According to the report, the ROP is coordinating with the Ministry of Manpower to restructure the process of issuing driving licences to expatriates. “Until now, everybody could apply for a driving licence, but we are planning to put in place some restrictions,” the senior official confirmed in the newspaper.
However, it has not yet been made clear as to who will be eligible to obtain a driving licence and who will be excluded. “We are working on that,” the official from the ROP said.
Social media has been abuzz since the news surfaced, with many expat motorists up in arms. “How are people going to drop kids to school? Safe school transport has to be provided before putting any such rule in practice,” commented one parent on the Facebook forum, What’s Happening Muscat, Oman?.
“I’m a college student, and I am not earning anything, so how am I supposed to go to college from my house? I can’t afford a driver and my class timings change, so I can’t fix a time with a driver.
“I can definitely not afford changing drivers whenever my class hours change and there is no taxi stand near my college,” another expat added.
However, some Omanis consider the recent announcement to be a welcome move.
“There have been many examples of driving licences being misused. There are just too many cars on the roads,” Humaid al Nasri, an ex-Shura member, was quoted as saying in local media.
Amid speculation on the potential ruling, there was also a call from residents for a decent public transport system, which would provide those unable to get a driving licence with alternative modes of transport.
“The solution is building a modern public transport network which really will help people to stop using the cars, like a subway. If I can find a good subway route, which will save time, then I will not need to use my car and get stuck in traffic every day,” a concerned resident commented on Muscat – Where Can I Find?, another popular Facebook group.
Ibrahim al Hsani, who works in the media department at Muscat Municipality, said a joint team, including Muscat Municipality, the ROP and the Ministry of Transport, was working on the public transport system.
Salim al Ghammari, a Muscat Municipal Council member, said the idea of a new driving licence rule was suggested by the Municipal Council during a joint meeting held to discuss the public transport plan. However, al Ghammari said: “Such a rule should be put in place only after a proper public transport is out in place.”