A non-AC bus carrying workers in Doha. (File picture)

By Ramesh Mathew
Staff Reporter

Workers hoping to travel in the comfort of air-conditioned (AC) buses may have to wait as several companies are yet to comply with a government directive.
The authorities had announced around mid-June that buses and vans, including those used to ferry construction and other workers, must be air-conditioned with effect from July 1.
While the move was hailed by large groups of labourers who had, for long, requested for comfortable transportation to and from work, the situation is not too encouraging for them.
More than a month has passed since the new rule came into effect but many contracting, manpower and construction companies continue to transport workers in non-AC buses despite the prevailing scorching conditions, Gulf Times has learnt.
On their part, firms with large fleets of non-AC buses argue that implementing the change would take some time as it involves heavy expenditure.
A manager at a contracting company, which uses about 40 buses to transport workers, said it is “far from easy for most firms, including larger ones, to convert all their buses to AC ones at one go”. Such a move will involve large expenses, running into millions of riyals, and this can pose a big challenge for many firms, he explained.
Some also argued that there were no clear guidelines on the issue and companies might wait before implementing any change in their bus operations.
The manager suggested that the government should consider providing assistance to companies to help them equip their buses with ACs. “If all our buses are to be fitted with ACs, our operational costs will shoot up. We may also be forced to hike the rates of our services,” he added.
Another option suggested by some operators is that transport companies can lease AC buses to construction and contracting firms at “affordable” rates. Those running some of the smaller companies feel it is nearly impossible for them to hire buses from the government’s transport firm at the existing rates.
Only a "handful" of companies, meanwhile, have complied with the directive on AC buses. This has made the journey of workers, to and from work, a lot more comfortable, it is learnt.