Lesser ‘cat eyes’ now
No public authority in Kuwait has suffered as much as the Public Authority for Roads and Land Transportation (PARLT). Its law was approved by the National Assembly four years ago but the authority has not been able to carry out some of its responsibilities yet, which is in violation of the relevant law, because of the refusal of certain government bodies to hand over these responsibilities to the authority. Minister of Public Works is still attempting to bring PARLT back under the control of the ministry even though his request was dismissed by His Highness the Prime Minister.
PARLT is responsible for carrying out many tasks such as establishing road networks, railway networks and railway stations, identifying the costs of transportations, and determining and collecting the fees. It is also authorized to conduct investigations, prepare and follow up transportation strategy, execute relevant projects, and enhance the culture of public transportation.
Among the responsibilities assigned to the authority is defining the vehicle testing criteria, launching necessary departments, issuing driving licenses, checking the public transportation systems and allocating centers for car insurance among others. There are many other complicated responsibilities assigned to PARLT by the relevant law. What can we do if those who prepared the law are our lawmakers?
The PARLT project is one of the ideas recommended by the experts in the Cabinet. Allocating half billion dinars as the budget of PARLT is also their idea. We do not know why exactly a budget of half billion dinars was allocated and not quarter of one billion dinars.
General Traffic Department and Technical Testing Department of Ministry of Interior were supposed to be under the control of PARLT, but this step is facing tough opposition.
For four years, relevant bodies have been violating the law but no one has taken any steps for amending the law or forcing Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Public Works to apply the law and hand over the control of the relevant departments to PARLT.
Minister of Public Works had recently requested the cancelation of five road projects even though their tenders have been floated and settled based on the procedures stated by Central Agency for Public Tenders, Fatwa and Legislation Department and State Audit Bureau. This indicates the extent of fragility in the relations between the minister and director general of PARLT.
Road projects that cost $20 billion and will be completed in the coming few years is like “a hen that lays gold eggs” for the concerned leaders.
We would like to whisper in the ears of director general of PARLT to stand firm on his stance even though we know it is difficult for him to satisfy his conscience and please 40 MPs and 16 ministers at the same time along with facing difficulty in dealing with most of the companies that are executing road projects.
We also would like to draw his attention to the fact that temporary road projects can turn into permanent ones; for example, the flyovers on Fourth Ring Road. Such temporary projects need more care as they are really in bad condition because they were regarded as just temporary. Such manipulation mostly occurs with the cooperation of the supervisors in PARLT. Some of the temporary projects last for years due to which they deserve more care.
In conclusion, we have to thank director general of PARLT and director general of General Traffic Department for their prompt response to our request for reducing the number of “Cat eyes” on the roads as much as possible, as they have become a source of annoyance for many road users, and have been damaging their vehicles’ tires.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf