Emergency committee meeting held in anticipation of rain

KUWAIT: Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Municipal Affairs Hussam Al-Roumi (right) and Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Mohammed Al-Jabri attend the emergency committee meeting. — KUNA

KUWAIT: People in Kuwait were urged to exercise caution as state authorities on Wednesday announced their readiness to face heavy rain over the weekend. Forecasters have warned that heavy rainfall yesterday and today will be followed by more extreme downpours in addition to unstable weather tomorrow and the day after. Motorists were advised against sudden deceleration and to leave adequate spacing with surrounding vehicles. This is to prevent putting their own lives and the lives of others in danger, the Ministry of Interior warned in a statement. Homeowners should turn off their porch lights and make sure that all sewage outlets in the premises are not obstructed. The ministry welcomed calls made by nationals and expatriates alike to the 24-hour emergency 112 hotline, for any unexpected humanitarian, traffic or security-related incidents. The coastguards 1880888 hotline is dedicated to incidents reported at sea, the ministry added. Meanwhile, public hospitals and clinics throughout the country have been put on “high alert and readiness” following the reports. Health Minister Sheikh Basil Al-Sabah has instructed area department heads to make the necessary arrangements, according to a statement.

Meanwhile, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah phoned the concerned ministers on Wednesday to make sure of the preparedness of the government bodies for the current unstable weather. The conversations followed heavy downpours on Monday/Tuesday night, which disrupted traffic in various parts of the country.

In the meantime, two ministers said that an emergency committee was held yesterday held in accordance with directives of His Highness the Prime Minister to discuss solution on how to deal with the expected rain in the country. This came in two separate statements by Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Municipal Affairs Hussam Al-Roumi, and Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Mohammed Al-Jabri ahead of the committee meeting. The meeting discussed the expected rainfall in the country in the coming days, and solutions and plans to avoid rainfall accumulation and prevent street flooding, hoping to develop a comprehensive plan for that, they added.

Minister Roumi urged citizens and residents to avoid leaving their houses during heavy rain, adding that the roads during yesterday’s rain were clear and all emergency teams were on position. Meanwhile, Minister Jabri said that the role of the Ministry of Information is to gather all information from all government agencies to make the picture clear and refute rumors. His Highness the Prime Minister stressed in a telephone conversation with the concerned ministers Wednesday evening on the need to ensure the readiness of government bodies under the current weather conditions.

The emergency meeting was held to prepare an integrated plan to face the rainy season and avoid drawbacks. It grouped emergency teams, as well as representatives from the Information Ministry, Interior Ministry, Public Authority for Roads and Transportation (PART), Kuwait National Guard, Kuwait Fire Service Directorate, the General Department of Civil Defense, Public Works Ministry, Kuwait Municipality, and the Ministry of Electricity and Water.

Roumi assured reporters that everything is under control in anticipation of the rain. Asked about his political responsibility over the recent flooding, Roumi said that he performed his duties as required. “I met with officials on Oct 25 following the rains and I urged them to avoid mistakes, but still there was laxity,” he said. “A committee has been formed and results will be announced when ready. Everyone, including retired officials, will be held accountable.”

“We instructed the ministry teams to be at the ready, and with this meeting we will reach a plan with the necessary solutions,” he added. Asked about his decision to retire the undersecretary of the public works ministry Eng Awatif Al-Ghunaim, the minister explained that the decision helps ‘inject new blood’ into the ministry. Roumi also commented on the controversy surrounding the Director of PART Ahmad Al-Hassan, who had traveled to the US on an official mission on the day of the heavy rain and flooding on Tuesday. The minister explained that he had rejected Hassan’s request to travel, but the official insisted on going, adding that he traveled without an official permit. The minister had issued a decision to terminate Hassan in the fallout of Tuesday’s events.

By Meshaal Al-Enezi and Agencies