IT is really strange to have a backlog of more than 20 years in terms of the plans for distributing plots and housing loans, since most of them continue to drag. This is clearly astonishing as far as the state is concerned.
It is regrettable that this is occurring 67 years after the initial launch of the government housing project by the late Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem on the basis of distributing wealth to citizens and stimulating the economy.
The welfare housing project was due to be developed in proportion to the increase in the number of citizens, with the hope of easing their suffering.
However, the mechanism and specifications established six decades ago are yet to change. Kuwait, at a time, was a pioneer on both the Gulf and Arab levels in this regard. It has now become the end of the scale of countries that are working to develop the welfare of their people, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council countries that took ideas from us and not only applied them, but also proceeded to develop them in a bid to modernize them.
As for us, due to the outdated building specifications, those who obtain government houses modify them in order to increase the spaces suitable for rent, or to sell them and live in other regions or countries. This ultimately means continuing to prolong the crisis.
In the past six decades, the state spent about KD 50 billion on housing and infrastructure in those areas. The outcome was … as soon as the rain fell, drainage and sewage systems were blocked, and potholes surfaced on the roads, as seen in several new residential areas!
This does not happen in other countries. Just recently, for example, the Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates and the Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced a housing plan at a cost of 65 billion dirhams, equivalent to $20 billion, aimed at accommodating Emirati housing seekers for the next ten years, and not those waiting for a decade for housing, as in Kuwait.
For your information, population care in the UAE, and at the level of the state as a whole, did not witness any backlogs or complications. Also in Egypt, which has a population of one hundred million people, the slums surrounding some cities were completely wiped out, replacing them with model housing buildings on lands owned by the army who distribute it to the needy. Thus, in less than three years, the state eliminated the slums.
In all countries of the world, governments seek to make the capital a vibrant place, except in Kuwait. Here, after 8:00 pm, it turns into a ghost town. Also, there are a lot of vacant state-owned land that can be exploited for the construction of vertical housing, with all services provided, and allocated to newly-married young people. This would bring life back to the capital, and at the same time solve one of the increasingly complex housing problems.
There are many solutions adopted by several countries near and far that can be benefited from, if the state is determined in this regard, and seeks to lift the injustice from its citizens who are getting older as they wait for their dream house. Some of them even get tombs before receiving housing welfare care.
Your Highness, learning from the experiences of others is not something shameful. So, look at the neighboring countries, and see how they solved this crisis at the lowest costs. Enough of the injustice and oppression endured by the Kuwaiti youth in this regard!
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times