Abandoned cars could be a hazard as expats leave

MUSCAT: A time that more abandoned cars finding their space in public or private parking lots is not far away.

With the sudden and unexpected departure of the expat workforce warranted by the coronavirus pandemic, a large number of cars are expected to be left behind while they leave the Sultanate.

The reason is said to be absence of potential buyers, or even if any, sale deed formalities could not be accomplished due to the closure of offices concerned.

Niyas Ahmed, who lost his job as a salesman in the Ruwi High Street, says although he found a buyer for his car, due to the closure of the directorate of licensing, he is not able to complete the sale deal.

“I have registered with the embassy for the repatriation flight. But how can I leave the car and go as my return to Oman is uncertain,” he said.

According to the private vehicle transfer law in the Sultanate, all transactions related to buying or selling used vehicles should go through the Royal Oman Police.

“The seller must appear in person before the Directorate of Licensing at the Traffic Police Department,” stipulates the law.

According to the law, all cars must be registered and the registration must be renewed annually. The registration document is called the mulkia, and should be carried with the driver.

Aju Raman, another victim of the coronavirus fallout as he lost his job in a company, said his departure would be possible only after selling his car.

“I do not have any bank balance. To felicitate my travel, I have to sell the car. There are no buyers,” he said.

There are many more expatriates finding it difficult to leave the country as they do not have any other source to fund their expenses for tickets.

“The conditions of many of these people are heartbreaking. Several of them even have families who are stuck in Oman trying to source the money. Due to restrictions, they are unable to find buyers for many of their properties including household items,” said Shameer P T K, a social worker.

At the same time, if the owner of a vehicle leaves the country without selling his vehicle and is not able to return, it can cause environmental problems, as they will be left abandoned at different places.

“Aside from the obvious concerns that they encroach upon public space, abandoned vehicles are also a major environmental hazard,” said Kalpesh Mehta, a civil engineer who also volunteers as an environmentalist.

When pointed out, an official at Muscat Municipality hoped that a post-2008 situation, when many owners left their cars at public parking slots like airport and flew back to their countries for failure to pay the loan instalments, does not arise.

“Neglected cars are a random phenomenon that cities face. They distort the general appearance of the area and are a source of health and environmental damage,” he said.