Finance minister asked to study damages – Army warns against touching ‘strange objects’

KUWAIT: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem and First Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah are seen during a legislative and executive meeting yesterday. – KUNA

KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday expressed his deep thanks and appreciation to the official bodies that have been harnessing all their efforts and energies to deal with the repercussions of the heavy rains that hit the country. He extended his thanks to the ministry of interior, national guard, ministry of public works, fire service directorate, ministry of health, ministry of electricity and water, ministry of information, ministry of education and higher education and the municipality for implementing the plans drawn by the Cabinet and committees.

HH the Amir also praised the efforts of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and ministers for taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of citizens and residents to preserve private and public property. He also praised the efforts of National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem and National Assembly members. HH Sheikh Sabah expressed appreciation for the generous contribution of volunteers from citizens with official bodies, reflecting national cohesion and solidarity of people of Kuwait in facing various challenges, wishing to protect this land and to maintain security and stability.

The Public Authority for Roads and Transportation said the country received 111 mm of rainfall in six hours, compared to a yearly average of 115 mm. Schools will reopen today – however, a number of them in Ahmadi will remain shut due to rain damage. The ministry of education said in a statement yesterday that only schools that were damaged will remain closed. Repair work is currently underway at the damaged schools.

The government earlier informed an emergency joint meeting with the Assembly yesterday that the rainfall that lashed Kuwait in the past few days was unprecedented and led to flooding in several areas in the country. The meeting, which was attended by 35 lawmakers and 12 ministers, asked Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf to study cases of people who sustained damages due to flooding because of the heavy rains. Ghanem told reporters that MPs saw a presentation by the government about the natural disaster and provided answers to questions of the lawmakers. He said the meeting spoke about a number of areas that were hit strongly by the heavy rains, especially the southern area of Sabah Al-Ahmad.

Ghanem said the government has formed committees to make the necessary preparations for expected rainfall on Wednesday and also formed other committees to provide services in other areas. The speaker said the finance minister was assigned to follow up the losses and compensate people who suffered damages from the rains. The meeting was attended by Defense Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as the prime minister was engaged with the visit of the Iraqi president.

Ghanem said the government failed from the very beginning to explain to the public that the few hours of rainfall was almost equal to the annual rainfall of the country and this was the reason that caused the flooding. Ghnem said that he was asked by some citizens to call on the Minister of Public Works Hussam Al-Roumi to withdraw his resignation.

Roumi told the meeting that the rain was unprecedented and abnormal, adding that the ministry has been preparing for the rainy season since mid-August. Authorities confirmed that a new wave of heavy rains is forecast for Wednesday, but said they cannot estimate its intensity. But MP Farraj Al-Arbeed said not much was said in the meeting, which apparently aimed at giving the government a clean sheet.

Meanwhile, the Army General Staff yesterday called on desert campers to take extra precautions and refrain from touching any strange objects that may appear following sand drifts due to the heavy rains that hit the country, which might be dangerous military remnants. In the past, authorities have often located and defused mines left behind by Iraqi troops that occupied the country for eight months. However, some of these mines had exploded, causing casualties.

PART said repairs are underway to fix a crack in asphalt on Mangaf Bridge, rejecting social media reports the crack will affect the structure of the bridge. It added teams were at the bridge to repair the crack. The authority’s emergency teams are deployed in different parts of the country to fix whatever needs to be repaired, it added.

Roumi said Saturday that several roads and sewer manholes have been clogged by mud deposits that were piled up due to the extreme rainfall. Roumi made his remarks to KUNA after visiting the civil defense’s operations center. Manholes have been fully drained of water except for the piled-up mud, he noted, adding the municipality’s teams will remove the mud deposits and clean the manholes. The minister added he inspected Sabah Al-Ahmad City alongside Minister of State for Housing Affairs Jenan Bushehri to look at the damages caused by the heavy rains.

The ministry of electricity and water urged the public Saturday to keep outdoor lights, like on fences, off during heavy rainfall. Khalifa Al-Furaij, Assistant Undersecretary for Water Operation and Maintenance, urged the public to abide by instructions during the rains. Electricity should be cut off from any part of the house submerged by water, like the basement or ground floor, Furaij told KUNA. Citizens and expatriates should check the fuse board before calling MEW’s emergency teams, he said, because the defect may be easily solved by switching it off.

By B Izzak and Agencies