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Thursday , April 22 2021

30 years and … three nights

Ten thousand days equals 30 years. For thirty years, we have been suffering from within and outside. For thirty years, we have been complaining about corruption and no one listened. For thirty years, we have been suffering from slip disc diseases and other pain which slowly invaded our backs; yet we remained silent. For thirty years our vehicles bore the brunt of the roads especially the tires, and individuals, companies and public money was wasted to replace windshields and other car parts. For thirty years complaints were published in the newspapers and the Parliament, through articles and speeches, and the government listened, understood and did nothing.

For thirty years most of the road contracting companies stole and looted huge sums of money allocated for paving roads and carrying out the necessary maintenance, and these people were behind all the mess over a period of thirty years. They are the same companies tasked with maintaining and repairing what they had damaged because most senior employees and officials of the ministry are corrupt.

 Then a respectable Minister of Public Works came and turned the tables and took firm action against a number of contracting companies and engineering offices, closed the asphalt factories and set precise standards for the asphalt mix and got rid of the corrupt employees, but they forced her to resign, after she became exhausted fighting the battle against big companies and forces of corruption, which strived hard, in cooperation with well-known ‘bearded’ men to get rid of her so that they could do what they wished uninterrupted.

Thanks to Jenan Bushehri, and Rana Al-Faris. Today we find roads that we enjoy driving on. We have been exhausted for thirty years because of poor manufacturing and looting of the public money. We regretted everything we did, because there is a group of people out there who have transformed the beauty

of our roads into a real tragedy, and made us really unworthy of it, after we spent all the money on these roads. Last week, over the course of three nights I had to go to Bneider and Dhabaia chalets and drove along the King Fahd and Fahaheel Roads, for the first time since 1961, I was terrified and hated driving the cars that I used to enjoy. Although the weight of my car is about two and a half tons, which is twice the weight of any ordinary vehicle, and I felt my car being pulled in on both sides due to the velocity of the air that were passing me from both sides at extraordinary speeds.

My fear and discomfort increased as I remembered what a doctor’s friend had told me that a majority of those ‘speedsters’ drive under the influence of narcotic substances which give them the feeling that they are the ‘masters of the road’. What astonished me more was not just the number of violations that were being committed around me every minute, but the number of police and rescue cars, manning the traffic from both sides of the road (I mean in both directions) with their flasher lights on, chasing these violators, which one makes to conclude that we live in a jungle.

 What I saw over those three nights was really terrifying – a scenario I had not witnessed over sixty years of driving. A feeling of regret started creeping all over my body for the wasted efforts of dozens of rescue cars chasing criminal drivers, who deserve nothing but admitted to the mental institutions for treatment. I conveyed my concerns at the beginning of the week to a senior official in the General Traffic Department who said that the reason for all this recklessness is the weakness of penalties for traffic offenses. A lot of people do not learn except through their wallets (by paying fines) and the current penalties are not a deterrent. However, the General Traffic Department awaits the approval of a law that has been in place for years in the shelves of the National Assembly. We wish His Highness the Prime Minister to approve the law by a necessity decree. Everyone is in dire need of a deterrent law.

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e-mail: a.alsarraf@alqabas.com.kw

By Ahmad alsarraf

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