Muscat: If you’ve bought or sold a car without going through official channels, be prepared for a raft of fines. ‘Ghost drivers’ have purchased vehicles in Oman and are on the roads - but any fines they incur go to the previous owner as they failed to register the sale properly.
Royal Oman Police (ROP) has warned that anyone selling a car in the Sultanate must go through the proper channels - or face hefty fines. “The sale and purchase process must be in accordance with the law, and complete ownership transfer procedures, wherein insurance and vehicle data are transferred, must be conducted at the Traffic General Directorate in the presence of two parties,” an ROP official said. “So, before you give your vehicle key to a buyer, ensure that the transfer of vehicle ownership is completed legally, which prevents the past owner of a car from facing any trouble caused by the new buyer,” the ROP added.
“My friend got a job in Tunisia and had to leave Oman on an urgent basis. She transferred her car documents under my name, so I could sell it for a good price,” Monica, an expat, said. Her friend left the country in August 2016.
“In December 2016, I found a buyer offering the same amount as posted online. He transferred the money into my account online and later came to collect the car and other documents,” she added. Being an expat and not knowing the legal procedure, Monica thought the process was over until she discovered that she had been paying fines for the car she sold.
“I was shocked to find out that the car was still registered under my name and I had been paying fines all this time.”
“I am glad that I sought the ROP’s help in the matter, who not only explained to me the legal procedure but also suggested that I file an official complaint, so that when the insurance of the car expires, it would be easy to catch the driver,” she revealed.
Both Omanis and expats living in the Sultanate often skip the procedure unintentionally. But there are some who are well-informed and abide by rules and regulations.
“I bought my car in 2015 from a local man outside a showroom in Athaiba. Since, he offered a good deal, I thought over it for a couple of days and decided to buy,” Mohamed Gomaa, a Ph.D student at Sultan Qaboos University, said.
“Once I deposited the payment, that person and I went to the Traffic General Directorate and everything was transferred onto my name,” he revealed.
Another resident of Oman, Zeenath, had the same experience while she was looking to buy her first car. “I bought a second-hand car in 2016 from an expat who was an honest person and knew the procedure. He could have easily fooled me, knowing that I had no knowledge of cars but he was fair in terms of price, and personally took me to the official authorities to get the documents transferred legally,” she said.
According to data from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), a total of 78,196 vehicles were registered in 2017. Some 5,420 vehicles were registered in January 2018. Of these, 3,753 were private vehicles, another 1,212 were for commercial purposes, and 342 were registered by car rental services.
In addition, January saw the registration of 24 taxis, 55 bikes, five diplomatic and four government vehicles, two tractors, and 13 driving school automobiles.
In comparison, 6,950 vehicles were registered in January 2017, representing a drop of 22 per cent in 2018.