Ministry teams step in to light up streets in emergencies

By Nawara Fattahova

Mohammed Al-Sarraf

KUWAIT: The street lighting department of the Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) works round the clock, covering Kuwait’s all six governorates. Some maintenance or repair works take place at a particular time, such as highway streetlight maintenance that is always done between midnight and 6:00 am, as the streets are almost empty.

Some areas in Kuwait are under the authority of other institutions. For instance, public parks come under the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources, various industrial areas belong to the Public Authority for Industry, paid parking lots belong to the companies that own them, and so on. These public bodies either have a special department for maintaining streetlights, or have maintenance contracts.

Most people don’t know these details, so they simply call the emergency line of MEW in case of any problems. “The hotline call center passes the complaint to our department, which is then transferred to the institution in charge. In some cases, there is a delay in responding to complaints by the institutions in charge. If the location that belongs to these institutions can be dangerous without lights, or if we receive repeated complaints, then we take the initiative to fix those streetlights,” Mohammed Al-Sarraf, supervisor at the street lighting department in the Capital governorate, told Kuwait Times.

“Minister of Electricity and Water Khaled Al-Fadhel is directly connected with our team and systematically follows our work. We receive instructions from him and the undersecretary directly. People’s safety comes first, and streetlights are the main factor ensuring safety on the roads, especially for drivers and even pedestrians. I would like to thank the minister, assistant undersecretary Mutlaq Al-Otaibi, director of the street lighting department Faisal Al-Damak and Ayman Al-Omani, who are always following up our work,” he added.

Multiple duties
The street lighting department is in charge of repair, maintenance and installation. “We also deal directly with accidents, especially when a vehicle hits a streetlight. We immediately replace it with a new streetlight so the street isn’t dark. We also cooperate with the police and fire department during accidents, as sometimes a fire is caused by the accident,” Sarraf explained.

“We have two types of maintenance – light maintenance (if a streetlight stops working) and complete maintenance (done every three years). For complete maintenance, we check every governorate and the areas that belong to it. We check each of these areas to do the maintenance of lights and other defective parts every three years. This is done regularly even without a complaint or report,” said Sarraf.

“Within an hour of the complaint, we deal with it. If the problem is simple, we can fix it immediately. For instance if the problem can be resolved by changing the lamp, then we go there on the same day with a crane and replace the lamp. But if the problem is more complicated like issues with underground cables, which needs the ground to be dug up, then the period of fixing it may take longer. MEW has special teams for various maintenance works, in addition to installation teams,” he pointed out.

MEW hotline
The majority of complaints and reports are registered through the MEW hotline 152. “When the call center receives the call, they send the complaint to the department in charge. Starting from last month, MEW launched a mobile application for smart phones (MEW152), through which people can report any problem related to MEW. Through this application, an email with the complaint is sent to the department in charge. The complainant can follow up the status of their complaint through this app,” stressed Sarraf.

The number of complaints differs. “The number of complaints in the Capital governorate is around three daily, but some days pass without any complaints. Both the application and the MEW hotline accept complaints in Arabic and English. The application also marks the exact location of the complainant when they report the complaint,” he said.

Currently all streets in Kuwait are lighted. “Not only is the Capital governorate fully lit, but all of Kuwait has streetlights from border to border. If a new area is built, we install streetlights there,” Sarraf noted. “Kuwait has one of the best streetlights in the world. The materials used are also of the highest quality. MEW has started a new phase of development by changing the currently-used sodium lamps in streetlights and replacing them with LED lights that will save at least 70 percent energy. We will also soon start using solar lights that will consume no energy at all,” concluded Sarraf.