Buses transporting construction workers as they travel to and from their work sites this summer should become slightly more comfortable next month after authorities mandate new rules for larger passenger vehicles.
Starting July 1, all buses and vans must have air conditioning in order to pass the mechanical inspection required to renew a vehicle’s registration, the Ministry of Interior said this morning on Facebook.
The new rules apply to all vehicles carrying 11 or more passengers.
Other new requirements for buses and vans include having tinted or insulated windows, reflective stickers on the back bumper and – in the case of large buses carrying 50 or more people – blinking lights at the rear of the roof.
Another new safety measure mandates that the bottom of a vehicle cannot be more than 55cm above the ground unless a protective safety bar is installed.
These so-called under-run protection devices are designed to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from falling underneath a large vehicle and being crushed by its wheels, and have been previously been highlighted in Qatar’s National Road Safety Strategy as an important safety feature lacking on older trucks and buses.
The new measures will largely benefit Qatar’s low-income workers, who typically cannot afford to own their own vehicles and are transported from their accommodation to their jobs on buses supplied by their employers.
It’s common to see buses filled with men in blue construction coveralls trying to catch a breeze through an open window even on Qatar’s hottest days, suggesting that many of the buses lack air conditioning.
The new vehicle requirements come as Qatar is making incremental changes to improve the living and working conditions of the country’s blue-collar workforce.
Reforms proposed more than a year ago to Qatar’s controversial kafala sponsorship system – which many human rights activists argue enables unscrupulous employers to abuse expats – are still being studied by politicians. But some smaller improvements have been introduced.
These include the rollout of multilingual electronic kiosks that allow expats to lodge complaints with labor ministry officials and forcing employers to pay workers electronically to enable better tracking of late or non-payment of wages, although this requirement has yet to take effect.
The number of labor inspectors has also been increased from 150 in late 2013 to roughly 300, although human rights activists say that’s still an inadequate amount of people to properly monitor Qatar’s massive construction industry.
Government officials have also been keen to showcase new, model labor camps, some of which were recently shown to a group of foreign journalists.
But the continuous influx of blue-collar expats to Qatar to work on countless construction projects ahead of the 2022 World Cup has been a severe strain on the availability of labor camps.
Similarly, questions remain over whether companies would be able to comply with the Ministry of Interior’s new rules for buses.
Several mechanics who spoke to Doha News this morning noted that replacing or retrofitting Qatar’s entire fleet of older buses that currently lack air conditioning would be a massive undertaking.
While all of Qatar’s residents typically welcome a cooler air conditioned environment after being outside, Nepal’s labor minister actually argued that it contributes to deaths in Qatar’s construction industry.
Tek Bahadur Gurung said the high number of heart attacks in otherwise healthy young Nepali men was a problem of “orientation” and that some men died after suddenly turning on the air conditioning in their accommodation, according to Channel 4 News.
While health experts say that suddenly going from a hot environment to a cold building can aggravate some medical conditions, the US Department of Labor recommends that those working in hot conditions take frequent breaks in air conditioned or shaded areas.
Correction: A previous version of this story contained erroneous information about the fleet of a vehicle leasing company.
Yanni, what do you think those little fans are attached to the celings of my buses and they also have a fully functional ventilation dispersal system. (An open window)
Good planning, per usual.
Obviously the logistics have been taken full account of – number of busses where this will be needed, number of workshops, availability of parts, replacements whilst the busses are out of action, and so on.
All stakeholders and interested parties have naturally been asked for their reaction to the proposals.
Rama starts in a day or so, and there are – what – about ten ‘working’ days for this to be completed.
So, yep, that’ll work.
Expect amazing. Expect (yet another) sudden policy cancellation.
I love this country – it certainly keeps me in chuckles!
Happy to keep you entertained
It’s a wonder that significant numbers of Canadians, Americans, Russians and Scandinavians aren’t dropping dead in significant numbers due to AC exposure. I applaud the new ruling. It’s only nearly 10 years behind the UAE.
Maybe Dubai, definitely not the UAE.
So basically try and get your technical inspection done in the next 15 days and you’ll have a grace period until your next inspection to install an aircon….
…..I generally do not switch on my aircon in my car after a hard game of squash/tennis – the sudden change in temperature did cause some health issues.
One would have to be a low-life to import transportation vans without A/C to move their employees around Qatar 😛
so , are you state of the art new ones that goes into working site ??? HAHA you surly are kidding .
are you saying*
Will not work. To phase in these buses you’ll need at least a year, unless after market or make shift AC units get installed. Good intention, will only result in Indian foremans forcing the workers to shut their windows so that others on be road believe the AC is running ..
Another note, though most these large buses lack ACs… many laborers, from India or Sri Lanka don’t like ACs blasting after rolling in the heat and sweating… They prefer a cool breeze to cool of before stepping into an AC room or car…
i totally agree, not much time is given & turning AC right after a long time in the heat & sweating can cause some health issues
The ruling effects only registration renewals. That should give them time to phase it out, and nobody needs to pretend on the road.
Very Good, I hope that the ministry also visits close door/ indoor/walled work place without AC. They can set regulations to at least maintain maximum 30 degrees Celsius on the workplace. this can help regarding the image that Qatar can manage to regulate working environment by maintaining cooler atmosphere not only for the FIFA world cup but for its work force. PLEASE CONSIDER and EXAMINE working conditions on close/indoor spaces (it is very much hotter than working outside).
Instead of installing acs in those old buses (which by July 1st it’s not going to happen ) they should buy air conditioned buses to use during the hot months and keep the buses without ac for the cooler months. If the companies complain they don’t have the funds to purchase the buses and it’s true, the government should pay for them afterall that’s what Qatar is trying to do, improve the working conditions and life style of the workers right?
the government paying for the companies so they can improve their workers / working condition ??? really , making companies relay on the government to have more ethics , Really now !!
Well sometimes the workers are not just building things for a specific private company, sometimes it’s government buildings or buildings for all residents such as schools, hospitals, and public parks these are examples of places that should be built with government funds and the workers should be provided with humane accommodation including transportation.
While it is true that it would be nearly impossible to retrofit all the old buses with ACs before the 1st of July deadline, the responsibility cannot be put on the government. Normally companies shouldn’t buy buses without ACs in the first place. If they chose to do then they have to bear the costs of this new rule.
those usually don’t use the big TATA buses that is shown here, which are what most companies use . still, companies want to make profits , buying new buses is not an option always.
I call for equal pay for all expats in Doha… Whether you are a media strategist expat paid 100k+ QR a month or a construction worker …
Can you please add enforcement of wheel (mud) flaps!? I can not count the number of times my windshield has been hit by stones kicked up from the back wheels on these trucks driving down Salwa road. Once needing an entire windshield replacement. I would guess upwards of 90%+ of the trucks on the roads have broken flaps or none fitted at all. This is highly illegal in every country. Think about the small population of bikers on the roads. That could be lethal!!
That’s good news for many labourers. I am guessing now there will be a big rush to renew registrations before the 1 July deadline.
this law was already put into effect years ago
finally! It is time these workers deserve consideration. They build the country
whilst not before time – lets welcome this step and make sure it is applied and enforced asap
May God Bless you MOI,
Unfortunately, we are living in a country that has a huge wealth, but less impact on the well being of the workers. for all these years most of these buses made huge profit for owners and companies, which is sponsored by Qatar. any one can say that the private sector is a private as it is, but we should not forget that each and every company, has to be 51% sponsored by a Qatari company. so most part of the profit re-invest into shareholders perfectly. so there’s a many side to look at. how you keep shareholders happy, how you keep the government happy, and at last how you keep the workers alive.
But I know there are Qataris who are smart and educated, who can do a remarkable change in the future investments. so lets hope for the best.