I am frustrated and absolutely enraged by the fact that we as a society often act in purely selfish and inconsiderate ways. One of my pet peeves is the near absolute disregard and disrespect people have for the designated disabled parking spaces. Every time I see someone who isn’t disabled park in one of these places, it’s like a slap in the face of all those with disabilities.
According to an article in Kuwait Times in July, 104 handicapped parking violations were committed in Kuwait. From my personal experience, I have seen this in many public places (such as shopping malls), where people take advantage of handicapped parking spaces just to make it more convenient for them and their families, as these designated spots are situated as close to the entrance as possible in order to make it accessible for handicapped people to enter that place.

These people do not have a handicapped person with them in the car nor do they have the handicapped sign displayed visibly on their cars. The consequence of such an offense in some public places such as supermarkets and co-ops is a fine of KD 100. However, in some shopping malls, the only consequence that I have seen is a ‘no parking’ sticker stuck on the window of the passenger seat. At this point, you might be asking yourself: What is my issue here?

Well, it is quite simple. I think that the enforcement of these laws in this country is very lenient. As a result, some citizens have become careless when it comes to where they park their cars – so careless that some park their cars as soon as they lay their eyes on an empty parking space, whether it is a handicapped parking space or not, and completely disregard the punishment.

Solutions or alternatives have to be carefully thought about this problem. One solution that I would propose is to have a police officer monitor cars that come into the parking lot, so it is easier to punish people parking in spaces assigned especially for handicapped people. Another solution is to clamp the offender’s car or impound it for a set period of time.

Personally, I have experienced this problem myself. I was going to a shopping mall with my family for a night out, but when we arrived at the parking lot, all the handicapped parking spaces were fully occupied, but luckily after roaming around the lot for a bit, we found an empty space. However, when we got out of our vehicle, we noticed that a car was parked next to us in a handicapped parking space without any evidence that that person was authorized to park in such a spot, unlike us. My family got immensely frustrated at this blatant disregard of the laws. What frustrated my family even more is that the person who was responsible for reprimanding people for such offenses did not notice this and was loitering near the entrance without a care in the world, far away from where this person parked his car.

Have we deteriorated as a society to do things like these? We should respect the fact that these spaces are made for disabled people, and this undoubtedly takes time for some people to understand that. I am not saying that disabled people do not have rights in Kuwait – on the contrary, disabled people do have a lot of rights in this country, such as the right to be employed in private and public sectors and 100 percent medical and health insurance, to name a few. As a society, we should respect these rights, and the least we can do to show them this respect is not to take their parking spot. To conclude, I hope citizens are made aware of this issue and that someone in a high position of authority is made aware of this issue as well.

By Abdulaziz Al-Ashban