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MP proposes legislating car need Legislator wants ‘nanny’ center for families

KUWAIT CITY, March 3: Kuwait’s traffic problem is getting worse as manifested in the serious traffic jams during peak hours, in addition to the rising number of road accidents which caused deaths and permanent disabilities, says MP Kamel Al-Awadhi. Al-Awadhi attributed the worsening traffic problem to the fact that about 1.8 million cars are plying through the Kuwaiti streets during peak hours. He said he obtained this information from the response of the Interior Ministry to his questions on the number of vehicles and accidents, as well as the nationalities of car owners. He revealed three Gulf nationals own a total of 2,843 cars; four Kuwaitis have a total of 4,328 vehicles; and 8,000 household workers own about 10,000 cars even though they have no legal right to do so.
He stressed the need for all the concerned official bodies to be serious in dealing with the traffic problem, particularly in terms of finding lasting solutions. He thinks the root cause of this phenomenon is the absence of control over car ownership, asserting the number of cars owned by expatriates regardless of the type of visa they hold far exceeds their number.  Highlighting the ministry’s response that 8,000 domestic workers own about 10,000 cars; Al-Awadhi asserted this only means several domestic workers own more than one car in spite of having no right to do so, because they are under the sponsorship of homeowners. He said most of these people are unskilled laborers who roam around with their outdated cars to cause death while the existing laws stand powerless in terms of curbing this phenomenon. He added there are around 47,000 expatriates working in the government but the combined number of cars they own is estimated at 60,000; while 208,000 expatriate employees in the private sector own about 290,000 cars. 
Indicating this is an illogical scenario which has led to unprecedented traffic jams, Al-Awadhi lamented the lack of control over car ownership has resulted in a remarkable increase in road accidents. He revealed the number of accidents increased from 56,660 in 2008 to 86,542 in 2012; while the number of deaths due to accidents increased from 410 to 454 within the same period. He said most of those involved in accidents are young people, below 20 years old, at a ratio of 1.3 accidents per 250 people every day; apart from severe injuries and permanent disabilities. He pointed out the number of accidents increased by 65 percent within four years only and the cost involved is equal to about three percent of Kuwait’s GDP according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Kuwait is ranked third in the world with high accident rate as per the results of the study conducted by the Institute for Transportation Research at Michigan University. He admitted he was surprised when the international community suddenly focused on the traffic issue in Kuwait, particularly among the international organizations and universities which have conducted studies in this regard.
He lamented the situation in Kuwait is totally different as nobody seems to care about the lives of the people because some have been given absolute freedom to own a vehicle without any economic justification. This is in addition to the absence of traffic regulation and infrastructure development to match the rising number of vehicles. The phenomenon has greatly contributed to pollution and global warming, as well as disrupted rescue operations during emergencies, the lawmaker said. He criticized the car ownership policy for expatriates, specifically the absence of laws to stop this phenomenon considering that 7,000 expatriates own about 40,000 cars; indicating these figures entail one person own four or more cars. He underscored the importance of limiting car ownership; otherwise, it could be an indirect license to kill. He wondered why some Kuwaiti and Gulf nationals need thousands of cars; not to mention the taxi offices with about 13,190 vehicles, benefiting from fuel subsidized by the State.
He then called on the concerned authorities to enact laws to limit the number of cars in accordance with the actual need of the citizens; clarifying the suggestion stems from a desire to save lives, not to curtail people’s freedom. He also thanked the interior minister for quickly responding to his queries, while unveiling his plan to conduct an opinion poll to know the citizens’ views on the issue and to make them part of the decision-making process in addressing the traffic problem. In another development, the parliamentary Human Rights Protection Committee on Sunday agreed to schedule a meeting with the Interior Ministry and Bedoun Affairs Committee to deliberate on the turn of events in the recent Bedoun demonstrations in Taima. Committee Chairman MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan said they are concerned about rumors on the arrest of a child among the Bedoun demonstrators as the act is an outright violation of human rights. He added the committee will pay a surprise visit to the Central Prison and Deportation Cell to personally look into the actual situation of the inmates. 
Meanwhile, MP Mohammed Al-Huwaila has presented a proposal to establish the Family Consulting Center, which will be managed by experts to provide the necessary services to families based on the principle that a healthy family is important in building the future for the country and its people. 
He explained the center will study cases and factors leading to family instability like physical abuse or lack of communication among the members. He said the center will present solutions and provide services to anyone who visits it or through email. He added there will be consultations to help people overcome traumas, make them strong in facing life challenges, parenting styles and important role of families through public awareness campaigns, seminars and other similar activities. He also recommended the opening of branches in every governorate and usage of social networking sites to reach out to the people. 
Furthermore, MP Saud Al-Huraiji submitted a number of queries to State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Al-Abdullah regarding the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) and the availability of food products like meat, milk, chicken and eggs in the next five years.
He wants to know if there is collaboration between PAAAFR and the Public Authority for Industry (PAI) in livestock production, plans to encourage participation of the private sector and fresh graduates to invest in its activities, budget of PAAAFR, its expenditures, and if there is a plan to increase livestock and milk production in the next five years.
Furthermore, Rapporteur of the Foreign Affairs Committee MP Hamdan Al-Azmi confirmed the panel has postponed voting on the Gulf Security Pact for one month to have more time to look into the reports of the constitutional experts. He explained the committee was supposed to vote on the agreement Monday but they decided to postpone it since Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim had earlier announced that the pact will not be presented to the Assembly this term.
On the other hand, Al-Azmi said the committee endorsed six agreements during the meeting; including the Paris agreement on industrial rights; Tajikistan agreement on prevention of dual taxation and tax evasion; financial, industrial and technical cooperation between the Kuwaiti, Iraqi and American governments; and cooperation between the Kuwaiti and Jordanian governments regarding customs. He added the panel postponed discussions on seven other agreements.

By Abubakar A. Ibrahim and Ahmed Al-Naqeeb 

Arab Times Staff


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