KUWAIT: The new academic year is set to start within a week for the majority of schools and universities and the traffic nightmare will start again after the country’s residents enjoyed roads which were almost free of cars during the summer vacation when most of the people in the country were traveling.

Different state departments have been working together to find a solution to avoid traffic jams during rush hours every morning and noon, caused mainly by transportation for students. Joint Committee from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Education, Kuwait University, and Public Authority for Applied Education and Training recently held a meeting to discuss changing the timing of schools, university and public authorities but no consensus was achieved in this matter.

The departments and ministries will meet again this week and will discuss the possibility of applying the proposal of Major General Abdulfattah Al-Ali, Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs which suggests changing school timings to 7:00 am instead of 7:30 am while retaining university timings at 9:00 am. Officials at the Ministry of Education proposed changing the timings from 1:30 pm to 1:15 for kindergarten and elementary and timings for middle and high schools from 8:00 am-2:30 pm. Most parents were not satisfied with these proposals, especially ones with children studying in different grades. “I have three children; two in elementary and one in intermediate. So now if the difference between their leaving time is an hour, this will be very hard and I think that it will also cause jams on the roads as I have to rush home from school to pick up my other daughter and head to school again.

This will also cause me problems at work,” Yaseen, a 43-year-old father told the Kuwait Times. Officials proposed using schoolprovided transportation as one of the main solutions to avoid or at least decrease traffic jams but many parents say no to school buses for different reasons. “I don’t trust the bus drivers at all. My neighbor’s nine-year-old son was left disabled after he was seriously injured last year when the driver didn’t notice that he was getting down from the bus and hit him accidentally when he fell on the street. My friend told me how his son died when the bus stopped on the wrong side of a highway and a speeding car hit him and he died.

I think it’s dangerous and I won’t let my children travel by bus. I used to always take them to school and now both my kids are in university and drive their own cars,” said Osama, a 55-year-old Kuwaiti. Some parents are deterred by the time their kids spend on the bus. “My daughter’s school is just a five-minute drive from the house, so why should she spend two hours on the bus commuting every day? I tried the bus two years ago and it was terrible. The bus arrived at 5:30 am and she reached school at 7:30 am and on her way back, she left at 1:30 pm and reached home at 3:30 pm.

I have also heard stories of drivers abusing female students on the bus and I would never put my daughter at risk,” said George, a father of two. Some parents seek alternative solutions. “I have three boys and they go to the same school as my neighbor’s kids. I will talk to my neighbor and have him drop them in the morning and I’ll pick them up in the afternoon. This will help solve the traffic congestion,” said 45-year-old Mahmoud

By Nawara Fattahova