The traffic department launched a campaign this week to suspend driving licenses and remove license plates from any vehicles found blocking roads or highways. The department said this decision aims to stop vehicles from obstructing traffic flows. The law authorizes the General Directorate of Traffic to confiscate the violating motorist’s driving license or the vehicle permit and license plates or both for a maximum period of four months.
Police also affix a label on the window showing the place where the violator can pay the fine and collect the license plates after the expiration of the suspension. The cars cannot be driven without plates, so those who receive such a ticket have only one option – which is to pay the fine and do what they are told to do!
This decision sparked a wave of anger and objection for a good reason. Try to go to the Kuwait University campus in Kaifan during the daytime, for example, and you will find that there isn’t enough parking space for the thousands of students, so they have no other option but to park their vehicles at the entrances and exits of the streets. With the large number of cars, it is natural that chaos will occur.
This is not the only place where you can find traffic jams. Go to Kuwait City, to Farwaniya or visit the apartment areas in Salmiya on any weeknight. The truth is there is simply not enough parking in Kuwait and landlords and businesses continue to build buildings without adequate space for parking.
What about those blocking the road during prayer time on Fridays, leaving their cars in the middle of the road? They are trying to attend obligatory prayers, so who cares about others using the road! I remember years ago I was on my way to the hospital, and because it was time for Friday prayers, the road was blocked because worshippers had parked their cars in the middle of the road to go to the mosque. Is it OK to block the road just because you want to pray? And everyone must sit and wait until you finish? I wonder if these people will be fined…
Some people say that we must use buses. OK, public transportation – great idea! I use the bus all the time when I am not in Kuwait. But here, I’m sorry to say, no one admits that buses are facing neglect and no one recognizes developing their services for several reasons. There is no public awareness of using mass transport, aside from the pathetic bus stops, and with this great weather here, only those with low incomes will be forced to use the bus. So what is the alternative? Clearly, it is to have your own car.
The poor capacity and poor organization of the roads are major causes of increasing congestion, and therefore it is natural to find motorists who are looking to park anywhere. I do not blame all of them and am against this mass punishment.
The country is in election mode, so it is natural that people will converge around election campaign headquarters that often lack enough parking spaces. The question here is whether they will all get a fine from the police. I don’t think this question will get an answer very soon, and until more people pay fines and complain, maybe the MoI will reconsider this decision and suspend it. So try to avoid parking on the street and if you cannot find a place to park, use your feet…
By Muna Al-Fuzai