Concerns about the safety of passengers commuting on minibuses are growing after a recent spike in the number of accidents involving these vehicles.
Following Monday’s accident on Emirates Road that killed three people, experts are once again calling for a ban on minibuses used for passenger transport.
A Federal Traffic Council recommendation for a ban on the vehicles has been pending approval since March last year.
Minibuses pose a serious threat to the lives of passengers as accidents involving them have claimed seven lives so far this year, a Dubai Police official said.
According to Brigadier Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, director of the Traffic Department of Dubai Police, minibuses were involved in 24 serious accidents in Dubai this year which claimed the lives of seven people.
Apart from seven fatalities, six people suffered serious injuries in minibus accidents this year, 17 others suffered moderate injuries and 26 sustained minor injuries. Minibuses were involved in serious offences during road accidents,” said Brig Al Mazroui.
The latest accident took place on Monday afternoon, when a minibus collided with a truck on Emirates Road near the Maliha exit just inside the Dubai’s border with Sharjah, killing three people and injuring eight others.
“The minibus driver didn’t leave a safe distance between vehicles and that caused the accident; the vehicle crashed into the back of the truck,” said Brig Al Mazroui.
Last year, the Federal Traffic Council issued a recommendation banning the use of minivans for passenger transport. The recommendation is still pending approval.
Major-General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, assistant commander-in-chief for operations affairs at Dubai Police and director of the Federal Traffic Council, said the council issued the recommendation to stop renewing registration of minibuses for passenger transportation, while only allowing them to transport goods.
“We want to ban minibuses from transporting passengers. We have sent a recommendation to the Ministry of Interior to ban the minibuses,” Maj-Gen Al Zafein told Gulf News last year.
The recommendation was expected to be approved earlier this year but so far there has been no update on its status.
The council recommends that the minibuses must be registered only if they are used for other purposes, such as transporting goods.
He said that Lt-General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, had asked the council to jointly conduct a study on minibuses, with the Ministry of Health.
The study mainly focused on the psychological condition of the drivers.
“Our suggestion to ban the minibuses from transporting passengers came as a result of the study which recommended that they must be used only for transporting goods,” Maj-Gen Al Zafein said in a statement earlier.
An estimated 50,000 minivans operate across the country, used mainly for passenger transport.
Control on the use of minibuses has been in focus over the last few years, beginning with the installation of speed-breakers in 2013. The move ensured minibuses are restricted to a maximum speed of 100kph.
In October 2014, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced a ban on minibuses transporting school students, giving transport operators 18 months to phase out the vans from the school run. The ban came into effect in March 2016.
In July the same year, a Toyota minibus carrying 20 people crashed into a stationary lorry on Emirates Road in Dubai, killing seven people and injuring 13.
According to Dubai Police, 76 people were killed and 884 others injured in 1,250 major traffic accidents in the first half of this year.