Minibuses may soon be forbidden from transporting children to schools, senior police officials said. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Minibuses may not be allowed to transport children to and from school, senior police officials said on Sunday.

The rule is expected to come into force at the start of the next academic year.

Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai Police Chief, said minibuses were very dangerous and should not be used to transport people.

“We will coordinate with the concerned authority in order to ban using minibuses in schools from the next academic year,” said Lt Gen Dahi.

He said that unfortunately some schools use minibuses to transport children because it was cheaper than using large buses.

Lt Gen Dahi said the use of minibuses was dangerous and their use should be limited to the transportation of goods.

Maj Gen Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Chief of Dubai’s Police Traffic Department, said on Sunday that minibuses should be banned as a means of transporting people.

Minibuses, normally designed to carry eight to ten people, are considered especially unsafe when overcrowded. In the past five months of this year alone 30 accidents out of 637 were caused by minibuses — 4.71 per cent of the total number of accidents. Minibus accidents caused the deaths of two people and injured 63 people, three of whom sustained serious injuries.

“The minibus doesn’t have basic safety features present in other vehicles. It holds around 14 passengers seated very close to each other and shouldn’t be used to transport passengers as its structure is not strong enough to hold this number of passengers. This vehicle is unstable and it could deceive the driver,” he said.

The maximum number of passengers a minibus can carry was reduced to nine from 16, but this rule has been largely ignored.

“Minibuses in general should be banned. The nine and 14-seat minibuses are very unsafe. Around 15 to 20 people die every year in accidents involving these vehicles,” said Maj Gen Al Zafein.

He said: “The bus can easily overturn on a curve when speeding. The design of the seats puts passengers too close for comfort and there are no emergency exits as in regular buses.”

He said many schools and companies use minibuses to transport their workers or pupils. Their lives are put in danger because such light vehicles usually lose their balance when they are involved in accidents.

“There should be a total ban on the transportation of schoolchildren in minibuses,” he said.

No special licence is required to operate minibuses, although they are designed to carry more people than ordinary cars.

Maj Gen Al Zafein said that 5.85 per cent of all road deaths last year involved minibuses.

He said that 87 accidents involving minibuses last year resulted in the death of seven people and caused injuries to 179 people, 15 of whom sustained serious injuries — the accident rate increased with the number of passengers travelling in minibuses.