KUWAIT: Kuwait has decided not to build an oil export pipeline to bypass the Strait of Hormuz because it would be too difficult and costly, a leading Kuwaiti newspaper reported yesterday. Kuwait’s Gulf OPEC allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have opened alternative oil export routes to reduce their reliance on shipping lanes that Iran has threatened to block several times over the last few years. State-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) has also studied alternative export options, including pipelines through neighboring Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Al-Qabas daily newspaper said.
But these proposals have been dismissed as too expensive because of the long routes involved, the paper said, citing senior oil industry sources. KPC was not immediately available for comment. Unlike Saudi Arabia and the UAE, whose Hormuz bypass pipelines only run across their own territories, Kuwait would have to pump oil hundreds of miles across a neighboring state. Kuwait’s economy is highly dependent on oil revenues and all its oil exports – around 2 million barrels a day – are shipped out of the narrow waterway between Iran and Oman.
In another development, officials of government radio stations in the Arab Gulf countries support Bahrain’s initiative to launch “This is the Arabian Gulf” Radio Station in October this year, contributing to common GCC action, a Kuwaiti official said yesterday. Yusuf Mustafa, Information Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary for Radio Affairs, said the new radio station would contribute to preserving traditions, culture, art and literature of the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Mustafa was speaking to KUNA after a meeting of senior radio officials in GCC countries. He said participants approved initial launch of the Bahrain-based radio station through Bahrain Radio end of this month. The GCC countries will assess the new radio station for three months, said Mustafa, and engineers would determine the frequency modulation (FM) in every country.
GCC information ministers will be discussing the new radio station when they meet late this month, he said. Once approved, added Mustafa, the Gulf radio stations would launch promotion campaigns for the new station. Mustafa, meanwhile, said Kuwait Radio gave Bahrain Radio a copy of its programs for non-Arab listeners in English, Urdu, Filipino and Persian languages. The GCC consist of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman. – Agencies
KUWAIT: A man was charged for physically assaulting a police officer who issued him a ticket for blocking traffic. The incident took place on Sunday in Salmiya after the policeman parked his motorcycle behind the man’s car to write him a ticket. The man, who was supposedly talking to a female driver nearby, got out of his car and confronted the officer after realizing that he was about to get ticketed. An altercation ensued and escalated to a point when the driver beat up the officer and then escaped on foot before back-up police rushed to the scene. The man’s car was impounded and he was later summoned to the Salmiya police station for questioning. During investigations, the man provided a different story by claiming that the officer harassed his female relative which prompted him to respond violently. The man filed a countersuit and offered to drop the charges if the officer did the same. The officer refused him and the two cases were referred for further investigation.
Kuwait: A couple in Al-Qairawan approached local police on Sunday to report that their teenage daughter was kidnapped by her uncle, but investigations later revealed that the man had actually stepped in to save his niece from his sister and her husband who beat her up. The uncle had escorted the 13-year-old to the Qairawan police station after officers summoned him for investigations in a case filed by the girl’s parents moments earlier. The man said during questioning that he had to break into his sister’s house in order to free his niece who called him crying and complained that she was being beaten. The parents eventually confirmed the uncle’s story and later dropped the charges.
ACCRA: A school proprietor who was arraigned before an Accra Circuit Court on the charge of human trafficking has been scheduled to undergo full trial on Oct 10. Peter Nana Kwakye Firam is alleged to have recruited one Margaret Agyekum and others from Ghana to Kuwait, under the pretext of securing them better jobs. The accused person, who had been paid in advance for the recruitment of the victims, transported them to Kuwait by air, where, upon their arrival, they were made to work under harsh conditions.
Peter Nana Kwakye Firam was arrested by the police, when one of the victims had the chance to report the incident to a relative in Ghana through a phone call. Upon his arrest, he admitted the offence, but later pleaded not guilty to the charge leveled against him before the court presided over by Sedina Agbemva. He was admitted to bail with two sureties each.
Sometime in 2012, Peter Nana Kwakye Firam informed the complainant that he operates a travel and tour agency, and that there was a lucrative job in Kuwait.. The Prosecutor, Chief Inspector Samuel Sakwah, told the court that upon the information, the complainant ‘s mother, who is a witness in the case, became interested and gave the accused an amount to enable him acquire documents from an agency in Kuwait called Saad Shahel, owned by one Rooney. “The victim, after paying the said amount, was finally transported to Kuwait on July 24, 2012.
Upon arrival in Kuwait, the victim’s Ghanaian passport, number H2196293, her mobile phone, and all other documents were seized, and she and other Ghanaians were forced to do hazardous work, and their movement restricted as they were working under guard,” the prosecutor stated.—Al-Africa
KUWAIT: More foreign workers came to Kuwait last year compared to 2011, according to official statistics, which show a notable difference between the number of work permits issued and the actual labor forces who entered the local market. According to figures quoted by Al-Jarida yesterday, 138,433 work permits were released in 2012, which have showed an increase by 591 compared to 2011. Meanwhile, they show that the number of new labor forces who came to Kuwait was 92,355, and that 58 percent of the work permits were issued in favor of government contracts and projects. The statistics were made available to the newspaper by Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor sources who requested anonymity because they did not have the permission to reveal the information. Meanwhile, the sources revealed that 644,116 work visas were renewed last year which was up by 86,017 compared to 2011. On the other hand, visa transfer operations in the public sector reached 173,864 last year, down by nearly 12,000 compared to a year before.
The number of visas transferred from the private to the public sector reached 3,958, while the number of visitor’s visas that were transferred to work visas reached around 13,000. Furthermore, the statistics indicate that 7,485 dependency visas were transferred to work visas in the private sector, while 17,540 Article 20 visas given to domestic workers were transferred to Article 18 visas which are issued to private sector employees. According to the statistics, around 67,000 visas for expatriate workers were canceled last year either because of travel or death. In other news, Al-Anba daily reported yesterday that the Civil Service Council was scheduled to approve the new organizational structure for the Manpower Public Authority, which will replace the sponsorship system in handling expatriate labor recruitment duties. The parliament passed a law to establish the authority earlier this year and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor launched efforts to set the body up under its supervision with hopes of starting operations before the year ends. Once that happens, the plan is to have the authority handle private companies’ demand for expatriate labor forces, effectively replacing the sponsorship system that has come under pressure over the past few years. Separately, the Kuwait Trade Union Federation warned in a recent statement that procedures to close companies which violate labor regulations could prove more harmful for workers who would lose their jobs in the process.
Local dailies on Sunday quoted Jamal Al- Dousary, MSAL Undersecretary Assistant for the Labor Sector who said that files of 88 companies are currently under investigations while 14 firms have already been shut down. “Al-Dousary’s statements do not provide explanations regarding the fate of employees of those companies, and even adds to the obscurity of the situation when he later indicated that all visas registered in a company’s file will become void once the company is shut down”, said Abdurrahman Al-Ghanim, Head of the KTUF’s Expatriate Labor Forces Office. He further questioned whether the ministry has taken into account “the legal, economic, social and humanitarian repercussions” of those steps, as well as the fate of “thousands of workers who will effectively become wanted for illegal residence for no mistake of theirs”. And while Al-Ghanim whose statements were published by Al-Qabas yesterday, applauded the ministry’s efforts to fight irregularities in the labor market including visa trafficking, he reiterated demands for scrapping the sponsorship system as “the real solution to the abnormal conditions in the labor market”.
Kuwait has been the subject of criticism from rights groups over the past few years over human rights violations resulting mostly from practices relating to problems in the sponsorship system. For example, the system has loopholes which are exploited by visa traffickers to release work permits for fake companies or nonexistent job openings, and then sell them to unskilled labor forces looking for a chance to work in the oil-rich Gulf region. Once they reach Kuwait, workers in most cases end up with no jobs, resort to accepting hard labor, and often live without valid visas. Kuwait is home to 2.6 million expatriates who make 68 percent of the country’s 3.8 million population, while official state figures indicate that there are nearly 90,000 living illegally in the country. Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Thekra Al- Rashidi announced last March that the government has a ‘demographic balance restoration plan’ which calls for deporting 100,000 foreigners each year as part of a scheme to cut the country’s expatriate population by one million within a decade. No details were since given regarding the mechanism to execute those plans.
KUWAIT: Kuwait is still importing fruits and vegetables from Syria, despite suspicions that they might be contaminated after the chemical attacks in the country. Ala’ Abu Naser from the management of Alforda at the biggest fruit and vegetable market in Sulaibiya said that they haven’t received any instructions from the Ministry of Health to stop importing fruits and vegetables from Syria. “We still have fruits and vegetables coming from Syria and even today, we received a fresh stock.
The inspectors at the Customs Department and at the municipality keep a check on imported food stock to make sure it’s not spoiled and doesn’t pose a health risk,” he told the Kuwait Times yesterday. “In case of chemical contamination of fruits and vegetables, I think they need to take samples to the Ministry of Health lab and have them tested.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is involved and should play a role in banning Syrian products from entering Kuwait. We still don’t have inspectors from the Ministry of Health visiting but they are expected shortly,” added Abu Naser. A source from the Kuwait municipality told an Arabic daily yesterday that the facilities available at the laboratories aren’t good enough to test all the fruits and vegetables which are imported and said that the checking is only “external”. The source also mentioned that other countries also import fruits and vegetables from Syria which are exported to Kuwait and the source of origin will be completely unknown. Saleh Al-Kanderi, a member of the Food Safety Committee noted that the municipality only inspects “visually”.
“We are dealing with the Ministry of Health’s laboratory to examine the food stocks. We are not authorized to ban selling or importing any fruits or vegetables from Syria unless we receive an official letter from the Ministry of Health stating that these products are not suitable for human consumption,” he pointed out. Dr Fahad Al-Anezi, Head of Pediatric department at Jahra Hospital assured people that the fruits and vegetables imported from Syria don’t pose a danger to health upon consumption. “Usually chemical weapons use sarin gas and its effects wear off after some time. Phosphate also tends to weaken after a few days.
These imported products need about 10 days at least to reach Kuwait from Syria by which time, the effects would have disappeared. Even if the consumer is a child, the worst side effect would be diarrhea, vomiting or stomach ache. The residents of the area may be affected by these products but washing the fruits and vegetables will be enough,” he pointed out.
By Nawara Fattahova
KUWAIT: After two years of complete silence, engineering control manager at Kuwait Municipality, Nizar Al-Sayegh astonished everyone by revealing that the railway project had been “delayed and will never take place” because many obstacles blocked its route, like the newly-built ministerial and residential buildings. He also called for more studies on adjusting the project’s route and allocating alternative locations for the concerned ministries and governmental establishments.
Further, Al-Sayegh said that once opened in 2016, Al-Shidadiya University would create a big traffic problem. “Though the university has been provided with 40,000 car parking spots for students, teaching staff members and administrative staff, the issue will arise when they have to get to the university”, he underlined, pointing out that the main road leading to the university was the Sixth Ring Road.