KUWAIT CITY, June 27: Assistant Secretary of the Higher Council for Planning Bader Al-Refai stated that despite the tremendous efforts exerted by the Ministry of Interior in controlling the traffic issue in the country, it is vital to highlight that traffic violations have increased by a ratio of 1700% since the year 2000, and that the population and the number of cars on the road have doubled, while the efficiency and the sizes of the roads have only increased by 50%.
This came during development dialogues organized by the Higher Council for Planning with partners from both the private and public sector, as well as civil society organizations for the purpose of finding solutions for the ever-growing traffic issue in the country which concluded Sunday afternoon.
The assistant secretary asserted that these numbers apply a definite pressure on the country’s infrastructure and urban planners in both the Ministry of Public Works and State Municipality, noting that at the general secretariat for planning, it was deemed important to initiate these discussions considering its role in development and planning, hoping that solutions will be concluded and projects will be innovated for this cause.
All participants agreed that the issue at hand is of a concerning nature for all and that it will require the collaboration of everyone in the country in order to solidify the solution. They also insisted that the issue revolves around three main factors, the roads, the vehicles and the driver.
All taking shape in the form of flaws in driver awareness, the high concentration of vehicles and the capacity of the roads. Statistics revealed during talks indicated the decrease of road related accident in a span of one year, as accidents in the year 2014 was registered at 99,000 while 2015 witnessed a decline to 80,827 accidents and mortal loss to 429, which is the lowest number registered in 5 years.
Furthermore, it was evident that all participants agreed that the period between the 90s and 2007 is when the traffic issue bolstered and gained a foothold, most likely due to the deceleration of development progress which caused interruption of road projects and other expansion plans that was supposed to lay the ground work for the increase of population and vehicles.
This necessitated a quick response and prompted the Ministry of Public Works to compose plans for numerous road projects in 2007 to address the issue, but due to the slow moving bureaucracy and the inability to execute such projects in due time, the issue has been left to further manifest itself and further complicate matters day by day.
That being said, 27 more road projects have been allegedly submitted in the past year and some are still in the pipeline, all in a bid to develop the land transportation system in the country and ultimately solve the traffic issue. But it was pointed out that these projects alone will not be sufficient enough to address the problem, as driver awareness also plays a big role. This aspect is noted as being handled by the Ministry of Interior, with their awareness campaign and plans to increase police presence.
Regarding the increasing number of privately owned vehicles on the roads, which has been estimated to be at an increasing rate of 295% since 2013, participants from the State Municipality pointed out that there is a directive issued by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to prevent the use of vehicles that are over ten years old, which left other participants wondering if the State of Kuwait is able to implement this or at least impose a fee to those who continue using cars of this category.
Dialogues were concluded with the floating concession that a large part of the solution is in legislations that encourages the use of public transportation alongside the initiation of operations at the Public Authority for Transportation for the reason of serving as the flagship for awareness and also a highway for road projects to come to life.
By Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff