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The Directorate General for Civil Defense tested the warning sirens with recorded explanation on the meaning of the tones in Arabic and English at 10:00 am Tuesday.
Ban on driving in emergency lanes won’t work ‘Laws made but not followed’

KUWAIT CITY, May 28:  Driving in the ember of the scorching summer sun, slow moving traffic has become a cruel daily affair. The roads are central to contemporary life and should be the most equalising of all resources. But to the frustration of drivers caught in crawling crusades, are those who disregard the rules of the road and drive as they see fit. In this week’s online poll, the Arab Times posed the question, ‘Will ban on driving in emergency lanes really work in Kuwait?’ and a majority of the replies were pessimistic about any real change occurring on the ground.

46% of all those who voted agreed that ‘culprits will get away with “wasta” or silly excuses’. Wasta, seems to be major roadblock in a charge against crime and an all too powerful player in civic affairs in the mind of the public, hampering any real chance for the smallest change or the most reasonable reform. “There is no point in introducing new rules when they don’t apply to everyone equally. No one will be compelled to follow a rule if there is an easy way out of the penalties”, one respondent pointed out. It is no wonder then, that Kuwait, on account of such systemic problems, has trudged down three spots in global transparency rankings from its previous position of 66 to 69.

Another 17% believed that the law may be implemented but never actually followed, casting doubt at the political will at work. In an interesting development, Major General Abdul Fattah Al- Ali, who had been working diligently towards cracking down on violators, has been shifted from his post to that of Assistant Undersecretary for Public Security Affairs.

This report was met by an increase in lawlessness that had previously subsided with Al Ali reining in reckless motorists. Some, even went as far as firing gun shots in celebration of his alleged ouster. But fortunately, Interior Ministry sources have affirmed that Major General Al-Ali will continue to lead extensive security campaigns in various parts of the country to arrest violators. “It is very difficult to know how seriously we should take a new rule here. We heard a lot about a campaign against the usage of mobile phones while driving, but it doesn’t seem to have had any effect.

There are still as many people talking on the phones and updating their social media profiles while driving”, a concerned voter shared. Echoing this sentiment, another 9% of voters believe that rules here have a rather short shelf life after which they are conveniently forgotten. “We are always hearing about new rules. But a few months down the line, nobody follows them”, a voter stated. In light of the overwhelming lack of discipline and road etiquette, technology seems to be the only fair arbiter in the opinion of many. 9% of the respondents believed that there is a need to install more cameras to monitor emergency lanes as old habits die hard.

Techno-surveillance has proven to have had a high impact in other countries and a higher engagement was crucial to monitoring road behaviour in Kuwait. Others, being realistic about road congestion during peak hours, agreed that it would be impossible to abide by the rule during rush hours and a strict implementation of this rule would do more harm than good, compounding traffic, generating longer queues and increasing the incidence of accidents.

The emergency lane is generally reserved for the use of ambulances, fire engines, police cars and civil defence.

However, in a recent ruling by the Ministry of Interior, it is now permissible for vehicles to use the shoulder lanes at specific times, and at the speed limit of 45 km/h. In order to ease traffic flows, the permitted timings are 6:00am- 9:00am and 12:30pm-3:30pm, which are held to be the busiest in the country the bulk of employees and students leave and return from their respective offices, schools, institutes and universities during the period.

By: Cinatra Fernandes Arab Times Staff

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