By Sahar Moussa
Have you tried to apply or process documents in Kuwait after the spread of COVID-19? Anyone who is trying to finalize their documents at any government institution will tell you how frustrating, disappointing and irritating it is. Processing legal documents in Kuwait is pure hassle. No matter what documentation you are trying to complete – it will be a ‘long, long and long’ procedure, and you will be one of the blessed ones if you manage to finish it and get it done.
Speaking from personal experience, procedures before the pandemic were already bad, lengthy and annoying – but after the virus, it has gotten much, much worse and unbearable. After the coronavirus outbreak around March, Kuwait was in complete shutdown – it was only after several months that the country began to open up, including governmental institutions, but with conditions. Before visiting any government institution, there are steps you should follow:
1- You should book an appointment online for the concerned authority – you will be the luckiest person on earth if you find an appointment or what you are looking for.
2- You should be there at least two or three hours before your appointment – even before the doors open – because you will have to wait in line to be checked for your temperature and maintain social distancing, and because it is so hard to find parking in Kuwait City.
3- When your turn finally comes and you happily show your online booking to the security man, you will be shocked because you booked the wrong place. You then need to book another appointment for another place, which will lead you back to square one.
4- If you are fortunate enough and you came to the right place, there will be one phrase you will hear which will freeze the blood in your veins: “PEOPLE WE ARE SORRY BUT THE SYSTEM IS DOWN – WE ARE NOT ACCEPTING ANY MORE PROCEDURES.” These phrases you hear mostly on Wednesdays, Thursdays and at the end of workdays. You are back to square one.
5- If everything goes right and your destination is correct, you are on time and the system is working, the employee will tell you to bring or photocopy one million documents, and will send you to another department for your papers to be stamped at another location. Yes, once again you are back to square one.
It is like a vicious circle – you run and run but can’t seem to get anywhere. Kuwaitis and expats have been suffering a lot from these toxic and never-ending procedures that are wasting their time for nothing. So the question is – what is causing this dilemma in Kuwait, although it has the resources and means to have the best operation and managerial processes? There are several factors that are causing these meaningless delays:
First, the terrible malfunction in the computer system, which is down most of the time. It is unacceptable in any governmental institution for the system to be down, and if this is the case, there should always be a standby IT team to fix the problem quickly in order not to waste anyone’s time.
Second, the exaggerating demands of paperwork, asking to photocopy 10 documents which can be avoided by having a link between all the departments, divisions and institutes that have the personal information of every person in Kuwait. This will certainly save a lot of time, effort and stress. It is only recently that an app was made under the name of Hawiyati or Kuwait Mobile ID, which provides citizen and residents in Kuwait a digital ID which can be used for the following purposes: Portable mobile-based civil ID, authentication for government and non-government e-services and digital signature for electronic documents and transactions.
Third, to bring people who have high managerial skills and qualifications to organize the staff and make sure that everything is going smoothly and punctually. Fourth, to exchange knowledge with people that have experience in the same domain and who know how things work. Just to be fair, and speaking from personal experience, the Public Institution for Social Security and the Public Authority for Housing Welfare in Kuwait are really organized and know what they are doing. Other institutions can benefit from their experience to make things better in other departments.
Fifth, there must be a CLEAR website to state which papers you need to get and where they should be stamped from before going to your destination. Although some websites will inform you about paperwork requirements, when you reach there, expect that there might be a missing document not mentioned on the website.
Sixth, when it comes to employees, more discipline is expected and work should be distributed fairly among them, which will make the workflow easier. For example, not having three employees processing people’s work while others are sitting doing nothing.
Seventh, which in my opinion is the most important point – to delete the word ‘wasta’ from every institution in Kuwait and treat everyone fairly. To summarize, government institutions’ procedures could be much better and faster if they just put more effort and make it a priority to fix these simple but essential problems. Maybe the government is doing its best, but there is always room for progress.
Have you have faced similar problems with your documents? Please share them with us!