By Ben Garcia
KUWAIT: Thousands of people were left stranded on the streets Sunday afternoon as the partial curfew came into effect. Buses stopped picking up passengers long before the expected 3 pm deadline and left riders stranded on roadsides, many of whom were forced to walk home in the afternoon heat. Similar scenes of people waiting for the bus were also witnessed yesterday.
Meanwhile, main arteries in Kuwait City, Salmiya, Farwaniya, Industrial Shuwaikh, Mahboula, Fintas and elsewhere were choked with vehicles as drivers stuck in traffic jams could not move to reach home in time for the 5 pm curfew. There were no reported cases of people being rounded up for violating the curfew even though many failed to reach home before the curfew came into effect.
“I was at the bus stop at 3 pm but buses just drove past without stopping. They wouldn’t stop because they were already filled to capacity. Everyone was rushing to be home by 5 pm,” said Saby, who normally rides the bus home to Salmiya from his job in Shuwaikh. Saby said he wasn’t aware that buses would stop taking passengers after 3 pm.
“I realized that I will never get a bus from Shuwaikh to Salmiya, so I took any bus that came and ended up in Kuwait City. There I waited for more than an hour for another bus. All the buses were filled to capacity, but people were rushing to the bus wanting to get in. I was stuck there until 5:15 pm as the scenes in Kuwait City were even worse than Shuwaikh. At 5:20 pm, I decided to go home by foot,” Saby told Kuwait Times.
“I was ready to walk from Kuwait City to Salmiya because that’s what people were doing as there were no more buses and no taxis. I saw crowds of people of various nationalities walking in different directions, bracing to be caught by the police. But thank God, the police only yelled at us, telling us to go home,” he said. Luckily, a Good Samaritan offered Saby a ride home from Mirqab when he saw him walking.
Maricel, a regular bus passenger from Salmiya to Farwaniya, said she left her workplace in Salmiya at 2 pm and reached home after an hour. “At that time, the traffic was just starting to build up. I reached home relatively quickly, but on regular days, I could have been home in 15-20 minutes,” she said. “Buses at the time were already filled to capacity and we already saw the rush at 2 pm,” she added.
Mike, who was in a taxi with his friend from Kuwait City headed to Hawally, said they were stuck on the road from 3 pm to 5:30 pm. “My home is near Al-Bahar Mall on Tunis Street in Hawally. I came from Kuwait City in a taxi with my friend. The taxi driver chose to take road 30, assuming that traffic there would be less, but he was wrong, and we were stuck for two hours.
I kept checking the time, worried we would not make it home before 5 pm. Finally, when we entered Hawally, the taxi driver suggested we would move faster if we walked, so we got out and walked the rest of the way home, which took us another 20 minutes. We were not so worried because we saw many people walking at that time,” Mike said.