BAHRAIN's only driving school will be privatised soon in efforts to reduce a backlog of students waiting to be trained, it was announced yesterday.
The move aims to employ more driving instructors, who are currently numbered at 245, including 24 women instructors.
"The number of students has increased and the capacity of the National Driving Centre, Isa Town, cannot accommodate them," said centre director Lieutenant Mohammed Rashid.
"The privatisation plan is currently under study and we have already met a number of companies, but it will take around two years until it materialises.
"Countries worldwide are privatising their driving schools and it is a good step forward for us.
"More than a year ago, we approached a private company with the plan, but they said that the first thing we had to do was let go off current teachers, but we didn't want to do that."
Meanwhile, Lt Rashid said that the current 22 hours of driving instruction was not enough, adding that the number of failures last month was 2,193 compared to 1,627 passes.
"We are planning to increase them to 30 hours in addition to theory classes," he said.
"This will be very helpful to ensure that a student knows what he/she is doing before taking the test.
"The number of failures has increased and we have received complaints from the students, who say that the examiners were failing them out of spite."
Lt Rashid said that this was not true and that there was a specific procedure that determines the failure or success of a student, which is applied to all.
"I believe that privatisation will be a positive move and will help solve the backlog," he said.
More than 190 students take their exams on a daily basis, where 112 are held in the morning and 79 in the afternoon.
"There are eight examiners most parts of the year, with two more during the summer season when the number of students hits its peak," he said.
"Every examiner takes an average of 10 people everyday and they have until 5.30pm to finish."
Lt Rashid said that in the future, night training and examinations would be conducted.
He said that there have recently been a lot of complaints regarding the teachers, who have instruction on how to act and behave with the students.
"If there are complaints, the drivers are held responsible if they were found at fault," said Lt Rashid.
"There are also complaints when teachers add hours in the log book without actually conducting the training. Those found doing this were taken to the Public Prosecution."
"We added more reversing areas because there was always a long line of students waiting to take a turn, but now there is no such problem," said Lt Rashid.
"We also increased the number of exam cars from 12 to 25 to further reduce the backlog.
"There is also a proposal to increase the driving instructors' fees from BD4 per hour to BD5.