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21 April 2024

Dubai Traffic chief wants ban on passenger mini-buses by 2015

By Bindu Suresh Rai

The Head of Dubai Traffic Police is working hard to lobby a new federal law that will ban 14-seater mini-buses from transporting people by next year.

Such vehicles have already been restricted from transporting school children, after a decision taken in 2013.

Citing Sunday’s mini-bus accident on Sheikh Zayed Road, which resulted in the major highway partially closing to bring in aerial support for the injured, the traffic chief is now determined to ban the use of mini-buses to transport people in general.

A key agenda that will mark the next meeting of the Federal Traffic Council that will meet in the first week of March, Major General Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen is leading this authoritative body to crack down on the traffic menace and bring reforms under the directive of Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of UAE.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Al Zafeen said: “The FTC will now meet next to ban the registration of 14-seater mini-buses from 2015, if they are being utilised to ferry people.

“If these vehicles are used for other purposes, such as transporting goods, only then will those registrations be passed.”

Al Zafeen said the proposal has been brought forward following Sunday’s tragic turn.

He said: “This week’s mini-bus accident is a grim reminder of the casualties we see on a daily basis due to over-speeding and packing such vehicles with people, without the safety measures taken into consideration.”

He continued: “Sometimes it’s the speed, the dangerous swerving or the driver simply exhausted and half asleep at the wheel with people packed away in these killing machines on wheels. This cannot go on.”

Last year, the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai called for schools to stop using minibuses from after 30 minibus accidents were reported in the first half of the year alone, causing two fatalities and leaving another 63 injured.

Al Zafeen further explained: “Mini-buses, which are normally designed to carry 14 people are sometimes packed in with 16 to 18 people, making it especially unsafe when overcrowded and unstable when the driver is speeding.

“And if there is a situation, there are no emergency exits that are designed in regular buses to facilitate people’s escape.

“Annually, 15 to 20 people die every year in accidents involving such vehicles.”

Last year, as safety measure, passenger mini-buses in the UAE were required to be fitted with devices to control their speed at a maximum 100kmph or they will be denied licence renewal under new rules introduced by the Ministry of Interior.

However, the rules will be mandatory for all mini business with seating capacity of 22 people, in line with a recommendation it received to that effect from the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA).

No special licence is required to operate mini-buses.