New Bahrain law targets illegal taxis
Manama, June 30, 2013
A proposed law that could restrict driving licences for expatriates in Bahrain earning less than BD500 ($1,305) is part of attempts to curb people from operating illegal taxis, said a top official.
The bill, which was unanimously approved by MPs earlier this month, was included in a raft of new punishments for motorists who flout road safety rules, according to a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It caused shockwaves in the community and was later branded "unrealistic" by the head of a committee reviewing the legislation.
Shura Council foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Dr Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said some of the suggested punishments were too strict and judges should decide penalties on a case by case basis.
But MP Abdulrahman Bumajeed said the problem of expatriates using their cars as illegal taxis was out of control.
"The increase in the number of illegal taxis and them being directly related to expatriates is one of the reasons for this law," parliament's foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman told the GDN.
"It looks to organise the issuing of licences and not prevent expatriates from acquiring them. Everyone in Bahrain deserves to get a licence but in line with their needs and salary."
The law also seeks to curb the increasing number of vehicles driven by expatriates.
"Some expatriates have transportation provided by their companies, but they still get a licence and that can cause traffic congestion for no reason," said Bumajeed. "They acquire a licence with a salary of around BD70 for example and can't afford to buy a car."
The MP said the law looks to create a list of jobs eligible in which people will be eligible for licences, based on their income.
"We are not saying we want to prevent all expatriates from driving," said Bumajeed. "But we want to regulate it to benefit all motorists. Those who can afford to buy a car and need it as their only source of transportation are eligible as per the law."
Bahrain's expatriate community earlier warned thousands of people could lose their jobs as a result of the restrictions. – TradeArabia News Service