New traffic law ‘unrealistic’
Published: Tuesday, 2 October, 2007, 01:45 AM Doha Time
By Noimot Olayiwola
SOME Qatar residents have described the new traffic law as “too grim and unrealistic” as it continued to generate debates and arguments among the public, especially the middle- and low-income expatriates.
The new law, which comes into force today, stipulates that motorists who commit serious violations and pose risks to other people’s lives as well as their own will face stiff penalties such as up to three years in jail , fine of up to QR50,000 and suspension of licences.
Most of the people interviewed told Gulf Times that the expatriates would mostly bear the brunt of the newSOME Qatar residents have described the new traffic law as “too grim and unrealistic” as it continued to generate debates and arguments among the public, especially the middle- and low-income expatriates. law.
While expressing support for any law that will curb traffic violations, most of them said the QR50,000 fine or three-year jail was a penalty too far for any traffic violation, no matter how serious it is.
“This country is becoming expensive to live in by the day; I wonder where the place of the middle class would be in the next few years; how can the middle class afford the new fines,” said Shuaib, an Arab expatriate.
Some said that the traffic situation in Qatar had became terrible because some people have devised ways to “dodge” penalties, making it easy for them to continue to violate traffic rules.
“Instead of increasing the fines, the government should find a way of punishing people, who keep breaking laws and getting away with it. Everybody should be made to face the consequences of breaking traffic rules. I believe this would be more effective in reducing violations and road accidents in Qatar than ‘heavy fines’,” said African expatriate Afeez Mohamed.
Some felt the penalties could make many people bankrupt and even force them to flee the country after obtaining bank loans to settle such fines.
A Qatari woman, Ameera, said the new law was “not welcome”, arguing that people had different reasons, both negative and positive, for speeding. “It is unfair to impose such heavy fine on motorists. Everybody who jumps the red light does not do it intentionally; it could be accidental. Where does the government expect people to get such money from?” she asked.
“I think this is not reasonable. A fine or penalty should be something that is affordable for the offenders and at the same time make him or her wiser so as not to commit the same offence again,” said another expatriate.
He said that the Traffic Department should think again about the new law, bearing in mind that there are occasional “accidental mistakes at signals,” which could be due to many reasons, adding that it would be very unfair to punish innocent people.
However, some of the residents said though the penalty seemed too high, it would help make the roads safer and reduce accidents.
“The way people drive here is very bad and with this kind of law people will be more careful while making use of the roads. If somebody knows that the penalty he is going to pay will be more than the price of his car, he is surely going to be more careful,” said Mohamed Awal.
According to this group of people, the law will cover everybody, and it will go a long way in making Qatar roads safer.