adventures in driving: Kuwaiti traffic
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 9, 2007
This post is for my aunt and uncle, whose comments about Kuwaiti driving are affectionate but wry.
I noticed this article in the Arab Times, one of Kuwait’s English language papers, and thought: well, no wonder the traffic problem is so acute – Kuwait in 1986 must have been a different world entirely from the country of today.
KUWAIT CITY: Traffic problems are common in most capitals of the world and the situation in Kuwait is not an isolated case, First Deputy Premier, Minister of Interior and Defense Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah told Al-Seyassah. Sheikh Jaber added Kuwait witnessed a remarkable increase in the number of development and housing projects after adopting the open economy policy. With such projects requiring a large number of laborers, an influx of expatriate employees was observed in Kuwait for the past few years and has continued until today. Population growth has greatly contributed in the rising number of vehicles in the country.
Pointing out that traffic jams had negatively affected moral, economic, health and security aspects of the human life, Sheikh Jaber lamented “the total number of vehicles has exceeded the capacity of our roads considering that more than 51 per cent of the motorists go out at the same time — from 6:00 to 8:00 am and from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.” Roads constructed in 1986 were never expanded and these roads could no longer accommodate the present number of vehicles. Easy car loan schemes offered by several financial companies had also contributed to the growing number of vehicles.
Indicating the latest statistics on traffic accidents showed that around 124 accidents occur each day in Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber said establishing private and government institutions in one place — the Capital — has resulted to traffic jams in roads leading to the City. Road congestions can also be attributed to the location of Shuwaikh Industrial Area as it is situated in the middle of Kuwait’s road networks.
The Minister then proposed a number of measures to address these problems, which include obliging owners of residential units to allocate parking areas within the premises of the buildings; limiting the number of cars owned by citizens and residents; increasing fees for renewing car registrations for owners of private vehicles; strict implementation of traffic laws in less congested roundabouts and cross roads particularly in residential areas; arranging a different schedule for workers and students; immediately towing vehicles left on the roads; constructing multi-level parking areas in cities and market places; and considering the possibility of using mass transportation.
He also demanded the implementation of road widening projects; using the latest technology in controlling traffic flow; periodic setting of traffic light timings; regular road maintenance works; and notifying motorists about road accidents through SMS. Sheikh Jaber confirmed the Ministry had earlier taken several measures to solve Kuwait’s traffic problems and other solutions are underway.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that I love driving in Kuwait. These are my people – they understand my inability to stay in one lane, erratic turn signaling, inconsistent speed, and tendency to go straight in “turn-only” lanes and vice versa.