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‘Fines don’t work’
KUWAIT CITY, Nov 19: The Ministry of the Interior in a press release has said the Ministry has neither postponed nor cancelled the activation of Article 207 of the Traffic Law.
According to the law the vehicle will be impounded for two months in addition to the monetary fine if the motorist is caught speaking on the phone by hand or if the motorist does not wear the seat belt or if the vehicle is parked on the sidewalk hindering movement of the pedestrians.
Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs at the Interior Ministry Major-General Fahd Salem Al-Shuwae said that the Directorate General of the General Traffic Department is continuing to implement the decision firmly. However, the GTD will take into account humanitarian cases — cases of women, the elderly, people with special needs and families.
It is unreasonable to detain the car in such cases. He explained, “Our goal of implementing the decision is to maintain the safety of citizens and residents.” Since the implementation of the decision accident rates fell from 375 on Nov 14 to 264 on Nov 15. The traffic violations decreased from 4,000 to just 150 violations about vehicles parking on sidewalks since the activation of Article 207 of the Traffic Law. The official stressed the vehicles will not be impounded for two months in all cases, but a maximum is two months which can be extended to two or more months depending on the record of the violator and the extent of his commitment to traffic rules and ethics. That will be done by taking into account the circumstances of each violation separately.
The official pointed out in case a vehicle is impounded and the vehicle does not belong to the motorist, the vehicle shall be towed and the duration of impounding the vehicle shall be considered on a case-by-case basis. Al- Shuwae said there is ongoing coordination and consultation between Sheikh Khalid Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior and members of the National Assembly through legislative channels to work on tightening penalties and fines for some serious violations to protect our children and youth. In the first parliamentary reaction to the decision of the Ministry of Interior to continue impounding vehicles if the driver uses mobile phone by hand while driving or if the driver and front seat passenger do not wear seatbelts; MP Riyadh Al-Adsani said the National Assembly does not grant immunity to the prime minister or any minister so in case acting Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid Al-Jarrah returns to the Cabinet, he will be given a deadline to cancel the decision.
The Interior Ministry decided to stop impounding vehicles for the abovementioned violations a day after its implementation as the lawmakers and citizens opposed the decision. The first day of implementation resulted in the impounding of more than 800 vehicles. Earlier on Sunday, Director General of the Public Relations and Security Media Department in the ministry Brigadier Adel Al-Hashash disclosed that Sheikh Khalid Al-Jarrah has confirmed continuation of implementing the decision. He made the statement when the Ministry of Interior, represented by the General Traffic Department (GTD), held a press conference to clarify the recent procedures.
Major General Fahad Al-Shuwaie said Sheikh Khalid Al-Jarrah has instructed all members of the Traffic Sector to apply the decision without complacency. He asserted, “Most traffic accidents happen because drivers use mobile phones by hand while driving; while many motorists suffer from serious injuries during accidents because they are not wearing seat belts. The decision to impose fines for these violations did not yield the desired results.” He added other decisions will be taken later in order to protect road users. Meanwhile, MP Mohammed Al- Huwailah stressed that the health of citizens is a red line and the State should not allow the entry of food items from any country without strict control in accordance with international standards.
Al-Huwailah said the standards of healthy food should not be compromised and the Egyptian or non-Egyptian food items which do not meet the criteria must be banned. He added the existing food testing mechanism is insufficient due to the need to be absolutely certain that the percentage of residue of pesticides for agricultural products or radiation for canned and processed food items is within the internationally permissible limits.
He pointed out this requires the use of advanced equipment to complete laboratory examination as soon as possible so as not to impede the entry of goods and prevent damages to the items as a result of waiting for a long period. He called for ensuring strategic stock of various food commodities to prevent shortage, considering the tension in the region which necessitates full preparation for any emergency. He pointed out acting Minister of Health Jamal Al-Harbi and acting Minister of Commerce and Industry Khalid Al-Roudhan exerted tremendous efforts to address the recent onion price crisis, but more transparency is needed. He said the Food Authority is operating freely and clearly according to regulations on protecting the health of consumers
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff and Agencies