Manama: Kuwait is to scrutinise all driving licences issued to foreigners in the last ten years amid growing suspicions that forged university degrees had been used in some cases to acquire them.
Under Kuwait’s traffic laws, foreigners must have a university degree, earn 400 dinars (Dh5,177) a month and have lived legally in the country for at least two years in order to be given the driving licence, unless they are employed as drivers.
However, Abdul Fattah Al Ali, the interior ministry’s assistant undersecretary for traffic, in the middle of a nationwide crackdown campaign on traffic violations and abuses, wanted to step up the clean-up drive by having all university degrees thoroughly checked.
Sources told local Arabic daily Al Watan that Al Ali has instructed officers to go through all the university documents submitted by foreigners in the last ten years, particularly after 2006.
According to the sources, there is strong suspicion that some of the degrees had been skilfully forged through computer software, making it difficult for traffic employees to determine how genuine they were.
Al Ali will coordinate with the higher education ministry and will send the degrees to its services to scrutinise them further and to check whether the universities are accredited in Kuwait, the sources added.
There will be new instructions that foreigners who submit their university degrees for the driving licence will have to show the original copy as well.
Holders of the Kuwaiti licence who had forged their way with fake university documents will be deported, the sources added.
Kuwait has recently adopted a policy to deport expatriates for committing at least three “grave traffic violations that endangered lives”.
The practice was criticised by activists, but traffic authorities said that it was necessary to help instil a new driving culture in the country, address chaotic road situations and ensure full compliance with rules and regulations.
Al Ali also rejected criticism he was targeting vulnerable nationalities, saying that the clean-up did not single out the nationals of a specific country or region.
The crackdown campaign has netted several violators, including university students who obtained the licence under the student category but kept them after they graduated or left college.
Reports in Kuwait said that Al Ali has become an instant hero in the country for his public commitment to the application of the laws, even when the violators seemingly had high connections.
The senior officer last week said that a travel ban might be imposed on traffic violators who did not pay their traffic fines.
More than 70,000 traffic citations have so far been filed in the campaign, traffic authorities said. They included 43,000 serious offenses related to jumping red lights, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving on the wrong side of the road.