Proposal calls for increase to KD 500 for new driving license
KUWAIT: In an effort to reduce Kuwait’s traffic problems, one of many proposals being floated by the Ministry of Interior is to introduce tolls. Another possibility, which has alarmed expatriates across the country, was the plan to increase the fee to securing a new driving license from KD 10 to KD 500 and the price for renewal from KD1 to KD50.
There is also a proposal to increase the fee for issuing new registrations from KD10 to KD 300 and to increase renewal registrations from KD10 to KD100. The increase in fees applies exclusively to expatriates.
The proposals were mentioned by the Ministry of Interior in response to a question made by MP Dr Ali Al-Omair, who inquired about the ministry’s plans to reduce the traffic problems in the country. The expat community received the news reluctantly as the proposals are reportedly part of the country’s effort to reduce the number of expats. Some expats felt personally targeted, insisting that the proposals are ‘anti-expatriate’: “This is not the solution and the ministry knows it.
For us expatriates, it’s an unreasonable and unworkable solution, but if it happens can we do anything against it anyway?” a Jordanian expat told the Kuwait Times. “I wouldn’t mind if they had better public transport facilities. When they have a rail transport system like in Dubai in place, it could work well and it could solve the traffic problems in the country. But until such solution comes out, it is really hard for many of us to leave our cars in our garage,” he added.
The Jordanian citizen, who has been working in Kuwait for more three decades, said that the only reason why he has to use a car when going to work is because driving is the most reasonable means of transportation in the country right now. “If you ride in a bus, it will take you two hours or more to reach your destination,” he complained. “You will have to wait for the bus for hours under the heat of the sun and the bus stops are poorly constructed with steel benches and steel roofing, which simply adds to the heat,” he said. He added, “Sometimes you’ll be riding in a poorly ventilated bus too. How can they possibly expect or convince expats the public transport as it stands now?”
Another expat of Palestinian origin said that road improvements are needed to solve the traffic problems, ” I don’t think increasing the traffic fees is the key to solving traffic problems. They need to construct viable projects and new, improved roads. I hope that the ministry will tackle the issue of traffic congestions, but not to the expense of expatriates,” he said.
The space allocated for the road networks within the populated areas in Kuwait is relatively small and narrow and has to be expanded, said various observers. Some Kuwaiti citizens support the new projects, but hope that the Ministry will work hard in securing new laws and regulations that can regulate the process of allowing new cars on the road and balance the population increase. The number of vehicles in Kuwait has reached at least 1.6 million. The population is 3.6 million, which equates to an estimated average of one car per two people. The Ministry of Interior said that there is an imbalance between the growth of the population and the number of cars and the growth of road projects.
The average annual increase of vehicles is between 8-9 percent, while the average population increase per annum is 2.5 percent. The average increase in road capacity in general was 2.1 percent over the last ten years. Expats own at least 487,000 cars, with 166,000 of these cars being more than 10 years old. 810,000 drivers license were issued to expats since 2000 with 581,00 of them still valid.
Solutions to the traffic problems as per the Ministry of Interior, including privatizing the car technical check-ups, improving the traffic camera system and erecting a toll system which would require motorists to pay for the use of selected highways and roads. The ministry is also studying a proposal to increase traffic fines. The Ministry of Interior and some MPs contacted for their reaction/comments were unreachable as of press time.
By Ben Garcia, Staff Writer