It is unimaginable to think of the size of powers and responsibilities the law gives to the Road and Land Transport Authority. It is not strange that the Ministry of Public Works has been hesitating for years before finally agreeing to hand over the right to this authority to supervise the roads. This is like a hen that lays the golden egg. This is one of the reasons why other ministries, including the Interior, are still reluctant to hand over some of their powers to the authority.
Unfortunately, I can say here there is no one who has the ability and knowhow to manage the authority efficiently, albeit with respect to those who are at the helm of affairs at this institution.
This authority is responsible for all roads, railways and metro, rest stops and the right to own or lease properties, materials and equipment and the selection and testing of all computer programs. This is in addition to monitor the movements of each sector, define the tariff of transport and impose fees, collect fines, put in place the transport policy of the state, implement projects, supervise all activities on the roads, including the traffic lights system and vehicle licenses.
The authority is also responsible for drawing the policies of exercising the activities of land transport and licenses, setting up criteria of technical testing to all vehicles, development, management, licensing, renewal of driving licenses, testing means of mass transportation and ensuring their safety. This is an addition to the establishment and supervision of technical inspection centers and their licensing, the insurance of vehicles, the technical conditions of the vehicles, management and operation of weighing systems for trucks and coordination with the concerned bodies, and the establishment of joint stock companies or participate in the implementation of their projects, and much more that cannot be counted.
It is enough to know that the volume of the road projects under implementation or will be implemented in the next few years is over $20 billion. The Ministry of Public Works and the Kuwait Municipality, before the appointment of Engineer Ahmad Al-Manfouhi, was a haven for corruption. I am talking from my personal experience with the Ministry which lasted for years, and the fear is that the Ministry’s corruption would spread to the Authority, and this is very possible.
If we look at our roads, not to mention the rest of the State projects that were carried out by the Public Works Ministry and none of which has been away from destruction and corruption, we find that the reason for the poor condition is due to a large proportion of corruption in the qualifications of companies, prices and the quality of paving and asphalting machines, which do not meet the conditions or specifications, bad quality of materials due to the lack of supervision, manipulation in the specifications, the quality of asphalt, its quality, its temperature upon arrival at the site, and other tender specifications, which are usually found in hundreds of pages.
If a contractor knows that he has to abide by the specifications, he would never go for the bid, not to mention manipulation in the laboratory samples, and tolerance during the maintenance phase. Consequently, our roads are less durable to any environmental factors and are more prone to cracks, and flying gravels, assuming that the contractor is fully committed to the maintenance period. The money allocated to the projects of the Road Authority is very tempting, therefore responsible officials must have a high degree of integrity, and this is not easy.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf