KUWAIT: State employees and school students will have a two-day holiday on New Year according to a report yesterday quoting a senior official in the Civil Service Commission. Speaking to Al-Qabas on the condition of anonymity, the source explained that Jan 1, 2014 falls on a Wednesday, making the following day a day off automatically since it falls between the holiday and the weekend. “The CSC has prepared a letter to be sent to the Cabinet for approval before being circulated to state departments within two weeks,” the source said.
In other news, Al-Watan daily reported a ‘senior official’ in the Ministry of Education who indicated that there are no present plans to give students a day off during the Gulf Cooperation Council summit on Tuesday and Wednesday. Students were given a day off when Kuwait hosted the Arab-Africa Summit last month to avoid traffic pressure resulting from closing main roads.
KUWAIT: He works as a security guard in a mall with mobile earphones always in his ears. Many who pass by him think he is listening to songs, but the truth is he makes daily calls to his family in Egypt for more than 12 hours. Ahmad Nasser, 25, speaks about the story of the daily calls that take hours. “I use Skype and Viber on my smartphone to call my family and keep the phone on all day long to talk to my parents, wife, brothers and sisters as if I am with them, and it costs me nothing,” he said.
Nasser is one of many expats in Kuwait who have broken down the walls of being away from home by using that small earpiece and utilize smartphone apps that allow free international calls. Salah Deen from Bangladesh, who works as a supervisor in the capital, never lets the earpiece leave his ear, and speaks while carrying out his job. He said that “two years ago, I was calling my family twice a month by using prepaid calling cards or by mobile which cost me around KD 5-10 to speak for half an hour, but now it costs me nothing other than an Internet subscription for KD 5 and I speak with them for more than four hours daily”.
KUWAIT: The Ministry of Communications called subscribers of phone services to pay their financial bills in order to avoid automatic coder disconnect, slated to be implemented during current month against those who are lagging on payment. A first warning note would be sent to subscribers on December 8 before applying coder disconnect, followed by a second warning note to be sent to subscribers’ phone numbers on Dec 15, Dr. Ahmad Al-Hussaini, Director of public relations department at the ministry said in a press statement. Then, the ministry will go ahead and disconnect the service from subscribers who lagged on paying their bills, Al-Hussaini added, noting that financial rates for overdue bills are KD 50 for home phone services and KD 100 for business phone service.
Also, he indicated that the automatic coder disconnect will include phone numbers that agreed on leasing their overdue payments and were late in making their monthly payment, adding that phone numbers of those late in paying their annual subscriptions, over six months, will include homes and businesses for non-Kuwaitis, and business for Kuwaitis. In addition, Al-Hussaini stressed importance of commitment of paying the ministry financial bills for the continuation of phone services and avoidance of automatic coder disconnect, expressing at the same time his appreciation to subscribers who showed their cooperation with the ministry in the past months.
KUWAIT: The General Traffic Department (GTD) recently organized a traffic campaign in Khairan under the supervision of Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs at the Ministry of Interior Major-General Abdulfattah Al-Ali.
During the campaign the traffic sector seized 45 all terrain vehicles, a number of motorcycles, issued 500 citations and referred 40 youths to the concerned authorities for either holding illegal races, speeding or violating other traffic laws. Al-Ali reiterated similar campaigns will be held all over the country and that the law will be applied on all without discrimination. He went on to say the seized vehicles will be towed to the Interior Ministry garage and will be released only after paying the due fines. In other news, Al-Ali said the Ministry of Interior has prepared a study which will be referred to the Minister of Interior Sheikh Mohammed Al-Khalid for perusal and approval. The aim of this perusal is to limit the number of vehicles on the roads and help prevent traffic jams.
According to the study, a Kuwaiti will be allowed to own only two cars and for each additional car he/she will have to pay the government KD 100. However, the General Traffic Department will limit expatriates to one car and that too after taking into consideration the salary of the expatriate through technical channels. In all cases, an expatriate will not be allowed to own more than one vehicle. This decision was taken, Major-General Al- Ali said after the study showed a large number of citizens and expatriates owned several vehicles. The study shows, he added, at the moment 1,200,000 cars ply on Kuwait’s roads. Al-Ali added, this is not the only study which is being considered. There are other studies, plans and strategies in the short- midand longer-term to control and solve the traffic congestion on roads.
Ali noted the efforts exerted by the traffic sector in cooperation with the concerned authorities will help improve traffic movement on the roads. He disclosed, due to efforts exerted by traffic officers the traffic on the roads during peak hours has started moving faster which at one time moved at a snail’s pace. One of the reasons is due to strict traffic awareness and campaigns during which old vehicles which were cause of traffic jams have been pulled out of the roads and several motorists who were driving without licence have also either been arrested or they have stayed off the roads for fear of being arrested. This has helped ease traffic congestion during peak hours, he added.
The traffic campaigns which were organized over the last few months have resulted in arresting thousands of expatriates, either for driving without licence or committing serious traffic violations. The application of strict law and new government strategy, he added, has helped reduce the number of serious traffic accidents which had resulted either in death or permanent injuries. Statistics issued by the General Traffic Department show a 20 percent reduction in all accidents. This was due to the tremendous efforts exerted by the traffic sector and other security agencies.
The traffic cameras which have been installed at vital places along highways have largely helped reduce traffic accidents, he said. Add to this the 24-hour road surveillance using radars. The Assistant Undersecretary disclosed the GTD has recovered KD 42 million of the KD 51 million in traffic fines. He added, the ministry is in the process of collecting remaining money. He disclosed the Ministry of Interior and the General Immigration Departments are linked through a network to prevent expatriates and citizens from completing their transactions before paying the fines. He went on to say more than 10,000 Kuwaitis have been informed through different channels to pay their traffic fines. If they fail their files will be referred to the Public Prosecution. He stressed the traffic campaigns will continue in all areas of Kuwait to control the traffic and the law will be applied on all without discrimination.
KUWAIT: In a bid to counter criticisms levelled at Kuwait over human rights and expatriate labor issues, the Interior Ministry’s assistant undersecretary for passports ad citizenship affairs Maj Gen Sheikh Faiasal Al- Nawaf recently sent a report to deputy PM and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al- Khaled on expatriate labor in Kuwait including the total numbers of illegal residents and “free” laborers and suggested solutions. Security sources said that the report also included a plan that would help solve the problem for a decade involving around 100,000 expats.
They added that according to the report and the immigration department database, the total number of expats in violation of residency visa laws almost hit 115,000 and that Kuwait has around 35,000 marginal and loose laborers who have been victimized by visa traffickers. “The report demanded setting strict legislations to apprehend both sponsors and laborers,” stressed the sources.
The sources added that the report warned that the spread of marginal labor posed a threat to national security, especially in view of certain ethnic groups residing in certain areas such as Jleeb that are many-atimes inaccessible for security forces unless backed up by special forces. “This is a main reason behind the spread of various forms of crimes such as bootlegging, murders, sexual abuse, drug trafficking and robberies that vary from stealing manhole covers or parts of power plants,” said the sources. The sources added that the report includes detailed statistics on crime rates per nationality as well as illegal residents as per entry visa type, nationality and areas certain expat communities inhabit.
The report also called for fighting visa traffickers as well as establishing liaison offices with embassies of the countries that have illegal residents to jointly coordinate transferring them to special shelters instead of leaving them in embassy premises in order to eventually issue special travel documents pending deportation. In addition, the report recommended forming tripartite committees to pursue and apprehend illegal residents round the clock.
Moreover, the sources highlighted that the plan includes suggestions to reduce the total numbers of some communities by setting an annual quota per nationality to prevent uncontrolled increases. The sources also denied Kuwait’s intention to get rid of expatriate labor. “What is happening is rationalizing their presence and imposing the law in a way that would achieve Kuwait’s best interests,” said the sources, noting that the plan also aims at internationally improving Kuwait’s image in terms of human rights. —Al-Rai
KUWAIT: Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs at the Ministry of Interior, Major General Abdulfattah Al-Ali gave orders to register vehicles or motorcycles only for people with licenses to drive those vehicles. This was reported by Al-Jarida yesterday quoting Driving Test Department Director at the Capital Governorate, Major Abdulwahab Al-Omar.
“The decision came after it was noticed that many expatriates apply to register vehicles and motorcycles by their names while they are yet to obtain a driver’s license”, he explained. Decisions like this one helps address Kuwait’s traffic problem “in a very significant way”, said Al-Omar. “Finding a solution to the problem does not stop at road expansions or controlling issuance of driver’s licenses, but there are administrative decisions that continuously need to be activated and implemented in the long-term”, he said.
Meanwhile, Al-Omar announced that Maj Gen Al-Ali gave orders as well to subject a person arrested for reckless driving, serious or repeated traffic violations to a new driving test before the license is returned. “Driving test departments received authorization to reevaluate drivers through theory and practical tests and then release detailed reports that determine whether a driver is qualified to receive their license again”, Al-Omar said. — Al-Jarida
KUWAIT: Nearly a hundred doctors and medical staff members demonstrated outside the Amiri Hospital on Monday in a ‘silent protest’ against a decision made by the health committee in the parliament which upheld the Minister of Health’s order to transfer Dr Kefaya Malak to the Infectious Diseases Hospital. This was the second protest since the transfer order was made; which doctors insist was a ‘punishment’ for her instructions to move the ailing father of an MP out of the intensive care unit in order to make room for another patient.
The gatherers also indicated that more protests could be held until Dr Malak’s transfer order is reversed. “This was a silent gathering because the issue has already became clear”, Dr Saad Al- Zanki said as a spokesman for the protesting doctors. “Silence is the best way to express what cannot be described by words”. Health Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al- Sabah had reiterated earlier that Dr Malak’s transfer “meets the general interest” and denied once again “falling under pressure from any parliament member”.
He further rebuffed accusations that the ministry ‘made a deal’ with a health committee member by awarding a tender to a company owned by his brother in exchange of covering documents that convict the minister in the case. “The issue is left up to the investigations committee headed by former health minister Abdulwahab Al- Fawzan and consist of people from outside the ministry”, Al-Sabah said