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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 9: The National Assembly held a special session on Thursday, Jan 9 to discuss three topics.
The first was the traffic congestion in the country and the increased number of traffic accidents as well as creating a special lane for cyclists on the roads.
The second was the agreement signed between the State of Kuwait and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia concerning the divided zone.
Discussions on the third topic, which was the precautionary measures taken by the government to prepare for dealing with the current situation in the region, were held in camera.
In the presence of Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Dr Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah and Minister of Oil Dr Khaled Ali Al-Fadhel as well as a number of senior officials from the two ministries, the National Assembly discussed the agreement signed between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia concerning the divided zone.
The discussions began with a statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Dr Ahmad Al- Nasser who said Kuwait and Saudi Arabia signed the agreement and the memorandum of understanding on Dec 24, 2019 based on directives from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
He explained that the agreement refl ects the deep-rooted sisterly relations between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. It included an explanation of the treaty signed between the two parties in 1965 on the basis of preserving the full sovereignty of each country for the land belonging to it and upholding the right of each country to manage the natural resources.
The minister affirmed that there are no secret articles in the agreement, and that they include approval of the final and accredited land and sea boundary lines. He stressed that each party imposes its sovereignty on the land belonging to it, and the oil companies operate in accordance with the laws of the country they work in.
Sheikh Dr Ahmad Al-Nasser said they agreed on the joint investment mechanism in the divided zone and the sea zone. Sheikh Dr Ahmad Al-Nasser affirmed that Saudi Arabia has amended the contract with Chevron especially the articles that violate Kuwaiti sovereignty, adding that the agreement has been referred for approval to the National Assembly based on article 70 of the Constitution.
In this regard, Minister of Oil Dr Khaled Ali Al-Fadhel highlighted the advantages of the agreement and the memorandum of understanding. He denied the reports that have been recently circulating with claims of Kuwait losing land and money because of the agreement. Dr Al-Fadhel said Kuwait, during the period when the oil production in the divided zone was suspended, compensated by increasing production in other oil fields, adding that the borders of Kuwait have not changed due to the agreement, and are the same as before.
The Divided Zone agreement will allow Kuwait to produce 250,000 oil barrels a day, said Al-Fadhel. Al-Fadhel also noted that the agreement would allow Kuwait to produce 500 million cubic feet per day of natural gas, representing Kuwait’s share in Al-Durra oil field.
Moreover, Kuwait will see an increase in crude oil and natural gas reserves, as well as a new marine route to export its share of oil in the Divided Zone, the minister added. Meanwhile, Al-Fadhel said the agreement includes speeding up oil production in the zone and joint investment between the two sides through joint oil exploration operations. The two countries also agreed on executing joint marine and land projects in the area and developing joint fields as well, he affirmed.
The MPs then expressed their various opinions but they all agreed that the agreement is in favor of Kuwait despite their observations. It is worth mentioning that the agreement will be referred to the Parliament’s Committee of Foreign Affairs for careful review, after which it will be referred back to the National Assembly for discussing the committee’s report, followed by voting.
Also, the National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim responded to those who accused him of violating article 50 of the Constitution by interfering in the agreement between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. He clarified that he did not violate that article but rather enforced it, as it not only stipulates separation among the different authorities but also stresses the importance of cooperation among them. Al-Ghanim revealed that his interference was based on direct directives from His Highness the Amir who is the head of all authorities.
He said the agreement removed all misunderstandings concerning the agreement signed in 1965, stressing that Saudi Arabia considered the defined borders as administrative division but Kuwait considered the boundary line as permanent international borderline.
Al-Ghanim disclosed that His Highness the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, regarding the discussions of the agreement, had promised him it would be a Kuwaiti-Saudi one rather than a Saudi-Kuwaiti agreement, and that he was supporting the Kuwaiti party to the utmost level.
Al-Ghanim said on Thursday the Parliament listened to a briefing from heads of government bodies about their prepardness to deal with the developments in the region. Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad made a statement on the regional developments and Kuwait’s preparation for them, Al-Ghanim added during a speech after moving from a closed-door to a public session.
Al-Ghanim noted that Chief of the Kuwait Armed Forces Gen Staff Lieut Gen Mohammad Al-Khodr, Undersecretary of the National Guard Lt Gen Hashim Al-Refaie, Director General of Kuwait Fire Service Directorate Lt Gen Khaled Al-Mekrad and Undersecretary of Ministry of Interior Lt Gen Essam Al-Naham spoke about the preliminary precautionary measures taken to avoid any foreign or internal danger.
Undersecretary of Health Ministry Moustfa Redha, Ministry of Electricity and Water Undersecretary Mohammad Boushehri and officials of the Ministries of Commerce and Industry, and Social Affairs highlighted the measures in this regard and the available strategic reserve regarding medicine and food, he made clear.
In addition, Information Ministry Assistant Undersecretary for external media Faisal Al-Mutlaqqem revealed the ministry’s emergency plan and CEO of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation spoke about the facility’s reserve, he pointed out. The secret session was held in accordance with article 69 of the Parliament’s statute, he said. Al-Ghanim ended the public session and announced that a regular meeting will be held on Jan 21.
In the presence of the Acting Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs at Ministry of Interior Major General Jamal Al-Sayer and a number of traffic officers, the National Assembly decided to hold discussions on the traffic congestion and increased number of traffic accidents as well as the need to create special lanes on the roads for cyclists, based on a request submitted by MP Dr Abdul Kareem Al-Kandari. He stressed the need to pass a strict law for organizing traffic and bringing an end to the traffic mess.
Al-Kandari said, “It is not enough to offer condolences to the family of the cyclist Sa’ad Al-Subaie who died in a traffic accident. We need to find solutions to the traffic problem”. He revealed that 600,000 driving licenses have been issued for citizens, and twice this figure for expatriates. Al-Kandari highlighted that Kuwaiti cyclists have won medals in international competitions but they receive no reward, adding, “What they need is special lanes allocated for them”.
To add to this, MP Mubarak Al-Hajraf said people are nostalgic of the days when Abdul Fattah Al-Ali was the Director General of General Traffic Department, as there used to be positive changes on the roads throughout Kuwait.
MP Abdullah Al-Kandari said he is certain the MPs are serious about finding a solution to the traffic problem, but the relevant laws are not applied except during the traffic week. He revealed that a traffic accident occurs every 20 hours in Kuwait, according to statistics, adding that he wonders how there is an increase in the number of traffic accidents after the establishment of Public Authority for Roads and Land Transportation (PART).
MP Osama Al-Shaheen stated that every country has a central traffic body, but the Public Transportation Department of General Traffic Department has unfortunately abandoned its responsibilities for PART to assume even though the latter lacks a special department for public transportation.
MP Abdullah Fahad said many citizens and residents have died in traffic accidents that occurred on Salmi Road, which is a very important road that leads to Saudi Arabia. He criticized the lack of control and monitoring on buses “because the concerned authorities are afraid of infl uential figures”. Fahad lamented that the metro project has not been launched yet even though it was approved by the Municipal Council in 2010.
MP Adel Al-Damkhi said the Internet is awash with details about transportation companies that are out of control, adding that these companies even hire drivers who are in violation of the residency regulations.
He supported the suggestion to create special lanes for cyclists, but stressed the need to study this issue properly in order to determine the roads where such lanes can be created, and refrain from creating such lanes on roads where the traffic conditions would not allow. MP Al-Humaidhi Al-Subai’e suggested imposing punishments in the form of jail time for traffic crimes, insisting that the maximum and minimum punishments should be jail time so that the judge would not be able to replace jail time with fines. MP Saleh Al-Ashour said it is strange that the number of deaths resulting from traffic accidents is 650 per year while the deaths resulting from drug use is 250.
He highlighted that the budget allocated for raising awareness about the dangers of drug use is four times more than the budget for raising traffic awareness. Ashour called upon the Minister of Interior Anas Al-Saleh to stop the approval of issuance of licenses based on “wasta”. He suggested banning buses and trucks from using fl yovers.
Dr Ouda Al-Ruwai’e said, “An individual hit my car and crashed into another, destroying the latter. When we asked him why he was not concentrating, he replied, “I am sorry but I was having my dinner”. I went with him to his house and realized that he did not have a driving license and he had stolen his father’s car”. He stressed the importance of enhancing traffic awareness.
MP Naif Al-Mirdas said the number of traffic men should be increased in order to control the traffic situation in the country. He stressed that a patrol team with just one traffic man will not be able to carry out the task properly. Al-Mirdas indicated that the desire for youth to join the traffic sector is low because traffic men do not receive the benefits they deserve.
By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh
Arab Times Staff and Agencies