Licenses not a luxury

Muna Al-Fuzai

Local newspapers recently published reports that the interior ministry has withdrawn thousands of driving licenses from expatriates who have changed their profession or obtained the licenses illegally. According to news reports, legal action has been taken against people involved in this issue. So far, the ministry has withdrawn a total of 37,000 driving licenses due to violation of traffic laws and changes in profession from 2015 to 2018.

I think it is a large number, and although the MoI has the right to take back all driving permits that were given to some people without justification, I believe that this is not the end of the matter for several reasons. I must say that I know that getting a driving license is becoming difficult in many countries including the GCC, and Kuwait is no exception. In many countries, the fees are also high because there are many elements involved in getting the licenses related to road capacity and population. Some countries also apply a certain percentage over the number of driving licenses.

In Kuwait, having a car is not a luxury – it is a necessity. Yes, the road capacity is not enough and traffic is hectic, but traffic jams are an issue everywhere around the world and not only in Kuwait. In Kuwait, due to the hot weather and the fact that many employers prefer those with driving licenses as many companies don’t provide staff shuttles, it is normal that there will be people who will do anything to get the dream license.

It is known that to obtain a driving license, an expat must go through a process which requires having a minimum salary of KD 600, an accepted profession with MoI regulations, a degree and residency in Kuwait for two years. Some professional categories of expat workers are exempted, such as experts, judges, doctors and some others, but not everyone.

I believe these exemptions are required due to the nature of their work, and their income usually matches with MoI rules. But the ministry found that some expats have been obtaining driving licenses in illegal ways by making false statements about their profession. Thus their salary may not match MoI terms.

According to the general directorate of traffic, any citizen or expat must have a valid and effective driving license, otherwise they will not be allowed to register and renew a vehicle under their name. As for the expatriate, in the event of changing the profession, the driving license will be cancelled if the new profession does not meet MoI requirements, and no vehicle will be registered in their name. I think this move aims to ensure that people will abide by traffic laws and reduce illegal drivers and vehicles.

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