By Ben Garcia
A decision to ban motorbike delivery riders from almost all major roads was pushed back from Oct 3 to Nov 7 to give authorities more time to prepare an app that helps riders find suitable routes while avoiding restricted roads. The ban, which includes the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ring Roads, as well as Highways 30, 40, 50, 60 and 80, comes amid a rising number of traffic accidents involving motorcycles.
Reportedly, an agreement was reached with the union of restaurants and delivery companies to install special devices on each motorcycle on the path to take. In case of any violation, a text message or automatic notification will be sent to the company from the traffic department to take legal measures.
Reaction from motorists has been mixed. Marilyn Doroja, a Filipina motorist, thanked the government for considering the ban. “I use either the Fourth Ring Road or the Fifth Ring Road daily to commute from my home in Salmiya to my workplace in Shuwaikh. Delivery riders are a nightmare for many of us on the road. A motorbike will suddenly appear on your side or even in front of you – it’s really dangerous,” she said.
Kuwaiti motorist Noof, however, said she is against implementing the ban as it violates the basic rights of the delivery driver, who is a road user too. “It is a discriminatory law, and maybe our government officials must study the issue further. The riders are part of the economy and should be protected too,” she said. “The government should provide them motorbike lanes so they can continue using highways, like in other countries. Even bicycle lanes must be provided. This is a more sensible way of addressing the problem. Banning them means lesser business for them and the company owners,” she said.
According to Noof, delivery during the pre-pandemic era was limited to food and some other items, but nowadays, it’s available for almost all items. “If you order ice cream or something fresh for example, how will you make sure it is delivered on time to customers,” she asked.
For motorbike drivers, the government decision is harsh as it directly affects not only the riders, but businesses and customers too. “Customers will have to wait longer because we will have to look for alternative roads to reach their places. Most areas in Kuwait are connected by highways, so it’s difficult to not use them,” said Allan, a Filipino motorbike driver working for a well-known delivery company in Kuwait. Delivery by motorcycle, once a rarity in Kuwait, has boomed during the pandemic, with thousands of motorcycle delivery riders on the roads now.