Buckle up whichever seat you are on

Lakshmi Kothaneth – lakshmiobserver@gmail.com – Women taxi drivers are here and it is good news. It was long awaited, especially by female college students who are yet to get a driving licence. There was a time a few years ago when women had tried to take up driving private taxis. But not it is the orange taxis. There have been mixed reactions on social media, with male taxi drivers wondering about the competition they are going to face in the coming days.
There have been comments too about want of a separate car parking at Burj Al Sahwa, one of the most important traffic locations for public transport. It is an important spot because it is an assembly point for travellers heading to anywhere in the Sultanate from Muscat Governorate.
Passengers using public transport and heading to Al Batinah, Al Dakhiliyah, Al Buraimi, Al Wusta, Dhofar, Al Dhahirah and Musandam will invariably pass through Burj Al Sahwa.
I remember the official opening of the tower decades ago which, over the years, has become a transport hub. The tower area also accommodates five transportation companies, especially bus companies.
Speaking about the new development, a taxi owner said, “Women are flying planes these days, so why not taxis?” According to him, passengers would not be really bothered about who is driving them.
But for the women passengers, the decision to issue taxi licences for women something they appreciate because it makes commuting much easier for them. Like any other new development, there would be teething problems. Others point out maybe the women taxi drivers may not like to take up long-distance routes and the timing might be of a challenge because women drivers would probably not want to drive late at night.
We have to wait and see how women would like to take it up. There are already women who are driving instructors and women who are driving school buses.
“I would definitely feel comfortable to have a woman taxi driver if the need arises for using a taxi,” said Zainab, who has her own car but knows the plight of female college students who come from other wilayats to attend colleges in Muscat. This is the case in other wilayats too. Today, students attend colleges away from their home towns.
Yeru, who regularly uses taxi services, said women tend to be fair when it comes to taxi fares. Social media was all praise, calling it women’s empowerment.
Meanwhile, the other regulations that have received a lot of attention is the seatbelt regulations and wrong parking in the areas designated for differently abled drivers.
Tariq al Khabouri was quick to thank the Royal Oman Police (ROP). “Some people say they are going to park for a minute, but what if someone who really needs the space come in that very minute?”
The penalty for parking in these designated slots has gone up to RO 50 from RO 10.
While the car seats for children under four years have become a must, the mandatory seatbelts for passengers in the rear seats have been a bit of a surprise. The steady developments in the traffic regulations have had its positive impact, reducing fatal accidents.
So no more children on the drivers’ or passengers’ lap. If you love the kids, keep them seated on their car seats, say the safety experts.
Most importantly, all measures are to make the roads of Oman safe for road users: drivers and pedestrians alike. Texting and speaking on the phone continue to be a problem. The objective, of course, is quality of life in addition to saving lives. In many ways, road safety is connected to the well-being of a nation.