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Kuwait floods: officials slammed over poor infrastructure

Contractors blamed for deficiencies as roads and bridges remain damaged

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 15:56 November 20, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit:
  • Broken bridge east of Riyadh - Sabq
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Manama: The flood of criticism levelled at contractors and officials for the poor infrastructure in some parts of major cities and towns in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait has grown into a raging torrent.

Several underpasses were blocked, roads and bridges were damaged and facilities were flooded under the onslaught of the heavy rains that have lashed at the Arabian Gulf this week, resulting in deaths and injuries and loss of private property.

In Kuwait, Abdul Aziz Al Ebrahim, the Minister of Public Works and Electricity and Water, has come under harsh criticism for the perceived failure to deal with the heavy rains that have affected the country in the past two days.

Reports in Kuwait said that the drainage system failed to take in the large amounts of rainwater, turning several areas into ponds.

Opposition lawmakers used the situation to level corruption charges against government officials and to accuse them of their lack of preparedness for rainfalls.

In Saudi Arabia, the authorities are in a challenging race against time and difficult weather conditions, are working on limiting damages and ensuring there would be no repeat of the tragedies of the western city of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast in which 10 people were killed in 2011 and dozens in 2009.

Civil Defence officers said that four people were killed and ten reported missing.

Two of the victims were in the capital Riyadh and the other two in the northeastern city of Arar. Three more people are being treated at a hospital in Arar.

The officers said that seven of the missing were in Riyadh and the other three in Arar.

On Tuesday, the civil defence in Riyadh received 1,700 calls for assistance.

“We have rescued 300 people and helped pull out 110 cars and buses that had been carried by the floods,” the civil defence, said, quoted by local news site Sabq.

More than 6,140 calls for help were placed in the other parts of the vast kingdom and civil defence teams were able to rescue 1,357 Saudi nationals and expatriates, it said.

“In Hael, in the north, where 631 incidents were reported, the civil defence was able to rescue 11 people in a van surrounded by floods,” it said.

Pictures circulated on social media and in the local media showed damaged roads and bridges, furious streams of water and immobilised cars.

They also depicted the suffering of people trying to reach their places of work and children attempting to surf their way into their schools.

“A few minutes of rain were enough to give evidence about the lack of scruples of construction contractors who have cheated the nation and caused havoc,” a blogger posted.

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