RECENTLY, as I was passing through the arrival hall of Kuwait International Airport, my bag was placed on the baggage inspection belt by the porters. While waiting for my bag to come out of that inspection tunnel, I was surprised to notice something. The inspector who is supposed to monitor the screen that displays the contents of the bag was busy with something else. Can you guess with what? He was busy with his mobile phone instead of checking the screen of the X-ray baggage inspection — the job he is assigned to do and for which he gets salary!!!
We often see traffic patrol officers who stand on the roadsides and near traffic lights and grab the attention of all passers-by using their red and blue LED police lights. They are usually busy checking their mobile phones more than checking on those who break the traffic rules.
Of course we as people – both men and women — are no exceptions when it comes to practicing the dangerous habit of playing with our mobile phones by texting, SnapChat-ting or even taking selfies while we drive through congested dangerous roads.
When will we see the implementation of strict laws that prohibit the use of these devices, which are dangerous to our lives and the lives of others?
We heard in the news that the Mayor of Honolulu, the capital city of the American state of Hawaii, had signed a new bill titled “Distracted Walking” into law last Thursday, after it was passed by the Honolulu City Council with 7 votes against 2. This new law, which comes into effect on Oct 25, bans pedestrians from looking at their electronic devices while crossing streets and highways.
The council moved to enact this kind of legislation after more than 11,000 cases of injuries were registered during the period between 2000 and 2011 because of distracted walking while using mobile phones.
As for us, we of course cannot dream of a similar law being passed in Kuwait because it is out of reach. However, we can at least call for the implementation of the law that bans the use of mobile phones while driving.
We also urge the leadership of Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Finance, which is responsible for the customs inspectors, to be firm with their employees and ban them from using their mobile phones during working hours, just like in other countries such as France.
The traffic officers stationed on the roadsides should use official communication devices and leave their personal phones at the stations until they finish their duty or their road assignment. When will such a dream come true?
By Ali Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil