MoI reinstates decision to seize vehicles of violators – Buckle up: MP threatens to grill interior minister

KUWAIT: Acting director of the traffic department Maj Gen Fahd Al-Showai (center) holds a press conference yesterday. – KUNA

KUWAIT: An opposition MP yesterday said he will grill Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah after he ordered the re-introduction of a controversial decision to impound vehicles for traffic offences. The decision yesterday came just two days after the interior ministry suspended the decision following strong protests by lawmakers and motorists, who saw the penalties as too harsh.

The ministry had decided to seize vehicles for up to two months along with fines if drivers were caught using mobiles or not wearing a seatbelt while driving. After it was implemented for one day, the ministry suspended the decision, saying that the interior minister will take a final decision on the issue when he returns to the country from an overseas trip.
Interior ministry officials yesterday held a press conference to explain their position on the new measures, which they said aim to protect the lives of motorists and pedestrians. Acting director of the traffic department Maj Gen Fahd Al-Showai said the decision also applies to vehicles parked on pedestrian lanes or on pavements, in addition to motorcyclists who do not wear helmets.

But he said that the rule will not apply in humanitarian cases involving senior citizens, women, sick people and the like. Showai said the decision had immediate impact on traffic, as accidents dropped from 375 on Nov 14 to 264 the following day, and that citations for no-parking and parking on pavements dropped from 4,000 to just 150.

But MP Riyadh Al-Adasani strongly criticized the ministry’s reversal of the suspension of the decision and warned that he will question the interior minister in the National Assembly. He said if the interior minister is retained in the new Cabinet, he will give him some time to scrap the decision, and if not, he will file to grill him, warning: “Buckle up, interior minister!”
Adasani claimed that the application of the penalties in this harsh way is meant to benefit a private company which has a contract with the interior ministry to tow the impounded vehicles and hold them for the duration of the seizure. He alleged that the awarding of the contract is suspected of involving corruption, adding that he has sent a series of questions to the minister about the issue, but he already knows the answers.

But Showai defended the ministry’s contract, saying it was given to the Kuwait Public Transport Co since 2009, but the company this year demanded that the rates be raised sharply. As a result, a new tender was offered and the private company was awarded the contract.

By B Izzak

This article was published on 19/11/2017