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Driving licence a ‘midnight’ dream for Sharjah residents

By Amira Agarib (Our staff reporter) / 12 January 2008

SHARJAH — For many people in the UAE, obtaining a driving licence is a dream. Particularly in Sharjah, it needs a lot of patience for applicants who end up spending a lot of money and time to make this dream come true.

Khaleej Times spoke to a number of licence-seekers who visit the Sharjah Traffic Department and the driving institutes everyday to enrol in a driving school.

Most of them complained that they had to wait in long queues outside the driving school from midnight or sleep in front of the Sharjah Driving Institute in Al Nasirya in the hope of getting their file opened the following morning. 

An Indian national, Rajan Syreas, who works as a production engineer, said there was a considerable rush of applicants in the last few days due to rumours that driving school fees will soon be increased in Sharjah, like it did in Abu Dhabi and Dubai recently.

He said he first came to the Traffic Department four days ago at 6am, but at 7.30am the officials told him to come after two days.

“On Monday, I returned at 6am and waited for almost seven hours for my turn to reach the counter and open my file at the driving institute.”

Most applicants have to seek permission from employers to stay away from office to complete the enrolment formalities, said Syreas, complaining it was difficult to keep waiting for such long hours daily.

He suggested that the Traffic Department should speed up the testing process so as to reduce the number of people who visit the driving schools everyday.

Another applicant, Ali Salam, who works as administrative officer for a construction company in Sharjah, said he kept coming for three consecutive days and waited for hours in the long queues but could not meet an official to open his file.

He said that he and some of his friends rushed to the Traffic Department after they heard that from January 15 that anyone seeking a licence in UAE should attend 120 hours of training. "So we decided to come before they amended the laws," he said.

He said that 300-500 people come at dawn everyday so that they could get their files opened.

He noted that there were only two officials to receive applications at Nasariya school and suggested that the police officials should increase the number of counters and employees to handle the transactions.

Salam further said there is always a rush at Sharjah driving schools due to the fact that people usually get the driving licence in about two years time because there is a gap of 80 days between the first and the second driving tests.

Mohammed Hassan complained of inadequate facilities such as not enough seats and shelter for the waiting applicants.

He attributed the long wait to the existence of only one typing office with three employees to type the application forms for a large number of clients.

Besides, clients are required to visit the Traffic Department first to open a file and then return to the driving institute. In addition, there is no information desk to guide the clients on the required procedures.

He noted that the designated hall for the clients is small, and there is no numbering system or microphone to call upon the clients who line up for hours without having an idea  when their names would be called .

Abdul Salam who works for Etisalat said he came daily at 3am on three consecutive days, but  failed to open his file due to the long queues.

"I felt tired and exhausted while waiting as there are not enough seats at the Shajrah Traffic Department for customers," he complained, adding that he was worried after hearing rumours that the authorities in Sharjah were planning to prohibit some categories of workers from applying for driving licence, as it has been done in Abu Dhabi.
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