Around 50,000 minibuses are currently on the roads with scores of passengers on board.
With minibuses involved in about 15 per cent of road fatalities, a proposal to ban them on UAE roads has been submitted to the Ministry of Interior (MoI). And once it is approved, it will be implemented in three years, a traffic official told Khaleej Times on Saturday.
The Federal Traffic Council (FTC) – chaired by Major-General Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, who is also the assistant commander-in-chief for operations affairs of the Dubai Police – recommended that all passenger minibuses be banned by January 2023 and those used to transport students be prohibited by September 2021.
Maj-Gen Al Zafeen said the operation of minibuses on roads has long been a concern for authorities over the last few years, considering the growing number of accidents in which such vehicles were involved.
Around 50,000 minibuses are currently on the roads with scores of passengers on board, and the issue becomes more critical as these vehicles are being used to transport thousands of schoolchildren daily. Two years ago, 10 students on a minibus were hurt in an accident in Muhaisnah, Dubai.
Minibuses are not equipped with the basic safety features that most cars have, Maj-Gen Al Zafeen said, and they usually carry some 14 passengers who are seated too close to each other. And if they get involved in accidents, chances are there will be more victims.
In attempt to address the problem, authorities have installed speedbreakers in minibuses in 2013, ensuring that the vehicles are restricted to a maximum speed of 100kph, he said.
Yet between January and July 2018, minibuses were involved in 24 accidents that claimed the lives of 13 people, Brigadier Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, director of the traffic department of the Dubai Police, told Khaleej Times.
This year, there were six minibus passengers who suffered serious injuries, 17 who sustained moderate injuries, and 26 with minor ones, he added.
In Dubai, these minibuses are no longer allowed to transport students, according to a ban implemented by the Roads and Transport Authority in March 2016. And the Abu Dhabi Police have announced new standards for its licensing.
Maj-Gen Al Zafeen said that once the FTC’s proposal has been approved by the MoI, a total ban on minibuses across the country will be in place, and their use will be limited to transporting goods.
What makes a minibus dangerous
> It lacks basic safety features
> Its structure is usually not sturdy enough
> Too many of its passengers are seated close to each other
*According to Major-General Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, chair of Federal Traffic Council, head of federal traffic prosecution and assistant commander-in-chief for operations affairs of the Dubai Police