In the last few years, Kuwait has witnessed an unprecedented rise in temperatures which has led to an increase in electricity consumption which has reached very high levels, prompting the ministry to follow a rationing plan and power cut in some areas.
Many people expressed their resentment and the MPs put pressure on the government. The Prime Minister, in turn, urged the minister of electricity to find an immediate solution to the problem ‘at any cost’ to stop the fierce attack on his government accusing it of negligence and lack of preparedness for the summer, as if surprised that there is sudden rise in temperatures in July and August.
The minister of electricity concluded that the solution is in the immediate import of fixed and mobile power transformers to meet the deficit. His request was approved and $1.3 billion was made available to import transformers, mostly from Eastern European countries. Several parties entered the import process, and in some ways even those who had nothing to do with electricity found it an opportunity to make profit.
The transformers arrived, the problem was solved in part, and consumption fell spontaneously. Suddenly the series of explosion in transformers occurred one after another. An investigation committee was formed and the committee came to the conclusion that the emergency situation and pressure put on government forced it to import generators from any country at any cost and here lies the fault.
The committee also discovered that the transformers imported by Kuwait was literally ‘scrap’ and unsuitable for Kuwait weather. The price is not more than 25% of what has been paid which means one billion dollars of public money found its way into the pockets of some here and there. The matter was referred to the judiciary, but due to the lack of evidence, no one was arrested.
What is happening now with the Minister of Public Works is similar to what happened in those days, everyone is putting pressure on the ministry to complete road asphalting at any cost no matter how and everyone is finding fault with the minister and ridicules her through all media means which has reached unprecedented levels to the extent it is difficult to bear.
The minister could have demanded an additional budget and obliges all road contractors, few honest and many corrupt companies, to end the re-asphalting of all roads in Kuwait within two months and go home reassured after silencing all voices against her, but she refused and sustained a lot and reached the best decision possible to address the problem which has accumulated over several decades. In other words the solution was overlooked by every minister of public works over the past twenty years, at least.
According to a report of a German road expert, the ministry did not follow any standard in ‘mix’ but relied heavily on the contractor, to examine and approve it and this resulted in a technical and moral shock to the experts.
I wondered what the supervisory body in the Ministry of Public Works has been doing all these years. Where was the Public Authority for Road Transport? What was the role of the governmental center for quality control and researches over 20 or 30 years? What is important is that the momentum to repair the roads has begun with all strength.
I salute this beautiful and brilliant minister, whom I met only for a few seconds on a flight, and two or three phone calls to praise her efforts. Her stubbornness and insistence to adapt to the correct ways to solve the problem have contributed to preventing the waste of hundreds of millions of dinars.
By Ahmad alsarraf