People who got driving licences through a speedy application scheme are taking driving lessons, as a government minister vouched for those hitting the streets under the scheme.
Ehlakin, which was run by the Maldives Transport Authority, issued licences to more than 3,000 people by condensing the one-week theory and practical driving exams so they could be taken in one evening.
A driving licence is usually issued to people who pass the transport authority’s theory and practical tests that are taken after applicants have had driving lessons.
PSM reported that 1,571 people got a licence for the first time through Ehlakin. The rest were either renewing their licences or adding new categories. Only 15 percent of applicants failed the exams.
Ilyas Mohamed, who runs Guidance Driving School, told Mihaaru that people who were already taking classes had also obtained licences under Ehlakin.
“I won’t say they don’t know how to drive, but we are giving them extra training to practice how to drive on the road, how to park and how to move (the vehicle) backwards,” he said.
A driving instructor from Help Driving School told the Maldives Independent around 10 people had signed up for lessons following Ehlakin and more were expected to join after Ramadan.
“These are people who are not comfortable driving out on the streets yet,” he said.
The deputy minister in charge of Ehlakin, Abdulla Mohamed, said he could “fully guarantee” that licences were given to qualified people.
“I have no intention of commenting on what driving schools say and do to make a profit for themselves. What I can say for sure is that the people we gave licences to were people who passed the exams.
“A kid may get a C grade from their O-Levels and still resit the exam to get an A grade. Does that mean the kid did not pass?” he fumed.
“The only thing we didn’t do was checking if people can do a figure of eight. We’ve had street accidents before, but not because people can’t do a figure of eight. It’s because they don’t follow traffic rules.”
Ehlakin comes at a time of increased concern about road safety, especially following an accident in Hulhumalé involving a motorbike and an architecture student.
It also raised fears about higher congestion levels in the capital and caused controversy over its politicisation, after the economic ministry used hashtags for President Abdulla Yameen’s re-election campaign and photos of Yameen to promote it.
Official figures say there were 5,754 registered cars and 74,354 registered motorbikes or auto bikes in 2016.
Why are people shouting out that accidents happen because of only farudhy zinmaa and defend the government. People didn't take off all the traffic lights. People didn't give away 1000s of licences without the correct procedure. People can't light Hulhumale'.
— Lubie (@lubiiieez) June 10, 2018
Over 2000 new drivers in 2 weeks. Increase of serious accidents in Male' & Hulhumale compared to last year. All this no excuse for reckless driving but when authorities bypass rules to issue license, can blame govt for obvious disregard for safety
— Munshid 🎈❓ (@dyingregime) June 10, 2018
If one is to be concerned about the spike in road accidents since the promotion for ehlakkin license, I suppose the person whose suggesting such, is only doing it out of public safety. Gives me jitters every time I think of taking the bike to Hulhumale since then!
— KalhuMyha (@Kalhumyha) June 9, 2018
These Hulhumale' roads are so accident prone. Reckless drivers aren't the only ones at fault. Jaywalking across busy streets is, after all, the norm here.
— އަޒުމް🎈 (@Azzmulla) June 10, 2018
Maybe @hdcmaldives or anyone who's in charge of doing things, need to improve their light system in the Hulhumale Roads, letting a bunch of @TrafficPoliceMv on the road wouldn't do crap. While you at it, please repaint the bumpers as well. Eyrah thikiyaa accidents ves madhuvaane
— Ryash Riyaz (@ryaash7) June 10, 2018