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Calls to cut expats’ cars older than 10 years in Kuwait

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s government has received a recommendation to cut down the number of cars owned by expatriates which are older than 10 years, in an attempt to address the traffic jams’ problem in the country. A study carried out by a technical committee assigned to find solutions to the traffic problems has concluded that there are thousands of vehicles aged between 10 and 20 years which cause pollution, increase risks of road accidents, contribute to the traffic jams’ problem and put added pressure on subsidized fuel consumption.

Sources familiar with the study told Kuwait Times the panel members believe that a majority of those cars are owned by marginal, low-wage expatriate laborers; a segment of Kuwait’s labor market which the government already intends to reduce as part of its efforts to solve the demographic imbalance problem. “The study says banning old cars most likely won’t lead to mass exodus of skilled labor, who earn a decent income that enable them to own newer models,” said the sources.

Furthermore, the recommendation goes in line with demands made by the Environment Public Authority earlier, which had called for a solution to the pollution problem caused by old vehicles in Kuwait. “Kuwait’s hot weather causes more harm to aged vehicles in comparison with countries with milder climates.”

These recommendations, according to sources, have been made several times before, but excuses such as the lack of metro stations and railway have halted the process. “However, those excuses aren’t viable anymore as public transportation and taxi services have become more available and companies can transport their employees in groups,” the sourced argued. While these recommendations might interrupt the flow of the replaceable parts market, it might on the other hand revitalize the markets of newer cars, according to the sources.

Putting this recommendation in effect can yield several benefits, such as reducing traffic jams and pollution, while at the same time saving public funds by cutting down consumption of subsidized fuel, the sources further explained.

Other recommendations featured in the study include limiting the number of vehicles expatriates can own, or banning expats from owning more than one vehicle. “This recommendation was also based on an Interior Ministry review which revealed serious violations committed by expats who sold or rented vehicles without proper licenses and paying necessary state fees,” the sources noted.


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