KUWAIT: Kuwait has begun a process of encouraging pedestrian traffic by adding several footbridges including covered or enclosed ones across main highways around Kuwait. – Photos by Ben Garcia, Yasser Al-Zayyat and Joseph Shagra

Kuwait is witnessing a surge in the construction of pedestrian bridges, a welcome respite for residents of high foot traffic areas like Salmiya, Hawally, Farwaniya and Khaitan. Many of these new footbridges are operational, while some are still under construction. The few past years have seen an uptick in the number of reported cases of deaths and fatal accidents due to jaywalkers crossing busy highways and roadways. Some people in Kuwait have tagged the Fourth Ring Road and Airport Road as the most dangerous roads for motorists and pedestrians.

Assistant Undersecretary for the Road Engineering Sector at the Ministry of Public Works Ahmed Al-Hussan announced in mid-2017 that 19 footbridges will open throughout Kuwait. The delivery will be done gradually according to the progress in construction. The footbridges are being constructed to achieve public safety, eliminate traffic accidents and provide alternative roads for pedestrians and road users in various areas.

“We are grateful for these bridges. Although some footbridges are still under construction, just seeing them is quite a relief. I’ve witnessed several pedestrian accidents and deaths from the 1990s until now,” said Bong, a Filipino expat working at the information ministry. “I’ve been in Kuwait for 20 long years and it makes me feel very sad whenever I learn about yet another hit-and-run victim. At least before I go home for good to Manila, some of my countrymen living in Maidan Hawally will be safer,” he added.

The stretch of Airport Road off Farwaniya and the stretch of area in Salmiya along the Fourth Ring Road near the fire station are identified as accident-prone by many. The construction of footbridges was coordinated with the General Department of Traffic to pinpoint such areas and places. The new footbridges include five in Khaitan, two in Seaside Shaab, two footbridges in Bayan, two in Ardiya, one in Salmiya (on the Fourth Ring Road), one footbridge in Ishbiliya near Al Nasr Sporting Club, one in Waha in Jahra and one in Salwa near Anjafa beach, in addition to a footbridge in front of Farwaniya Hospital on road 602 in Andalus.

Already build pedestrian crossovers can be found around Kuwait near Alshaheed park, in Mishref, Adaililya, Salmiya, Jabriya and other areas. Improving pedestrian pathways and crossovers also encourage more pedestrian traffic, further reducing both traffic accidents and the numbers of cars and buses on the roads of Kuwait. Building enclosed or covered footbridges also encourage their use, reducing the numbers of jaywalkers crossing main thoroughfares, especially during the hot summer months.

Kuwait has developed a plan to further increase the number of pedestrian bridges, anticipating five to be constructed in 2019 at a total cost of KD 7.25 million, in line with international safety and security regulations. According to statistics, nearly all traffic accidents and violations recorded in the first half of 2017 were related to running red lights, excessive speeding, use of mobile phones and reckless driving.

By Ben Garcia