Manama: Kuwait has deported 413 foreigners in the last ten months for breaking traffic rules, official figures indicate.
According to the interior ministry, 297 expatriates were deported for driving without a valid driving licence while the others were expelled for not complying with traffic regulations, Kuwaiti daily Al Rai reported.
The deportation process is based on instructions from the interior ministry, and no expatriate is deported until his case is reviewed by the ministry undersecretary, security sources told the daily.
“There is no concern about possible abuses and unfair deportation since every case is referred to the undersecretary and includes all the necessary details, which allows him to make the final decision about the measures to be taken,” the sources said.
Kuwait has regularly warned that it would deport foreigners who drive without a licence, or disrupt public order, mainly through brawls, or assemble and engage in political or religious issues.
In May, Kuwait deported 78 Arabs and non-Arab expatriates for driving without licences and arrested over a period of three weeks from April 21 until May 18.
In March, Kuwait said it would deport any foreigner caught driving without a valid licence in a toughening of the traffic law
Security sources attributed the decision to the fact that several expatriates did not mind paying the “trivial” fine of KD30 if they were arrested by the police and kept on driving without obtaining a Kuwaiti licence,
Officials said there were clear instructions to adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards anyone breaking the law and to refer anyone caught behind the steering wheel without a proper licence to the deportation office for legal action.
Kuwait has intensified its campaigns to address deficiencies and abuses on the roads, which have gained unwanted notoriety as chaotic and dangerous, in the absence of an adequate driving culture and full compliance with rules and regulations.
The crackdowns included the non-possession of licences, grave traffic offences, and the misuse of licences by some of the drivers.
In 2013, Kuwait deported 503 foreigners for committing serious traffic violations that included jumping red lights, reckless driving, using private vehicles to carry passengers illegally, and driving without a proper licence. Five of the deportees were from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
The deportation was part of a campaign launched by the authorities to exert greater control over traffic flow and to improve road safety in the country.
The campaign has evoked both warm support and sharp criticism in the local community and the blogosphere was awash with arguments from all sides.
Those who endorsed the move said that it would help make the roads safer for all and would ensure that foreigners acted within the confines of the law.
However, others argued that it was a measure targeting a vulnerable segment of residents.
A study released in 2009 predicted that traffic congestions and accidents would cost Kuwait 27.430 billion dinars (Dh332.05 billion) over ten years as the country tries to shrug off a terrible world record.
Despite its small population of around three million people, Kuwait has been hit by an alarming rate of accidents and injuries.
According to the 2009-19 Traffic National Strategy, around 200 Kuwaitis are killed and 6,000 are injured annually in traffic accident, giving the northern Arabian Gulf country the world’s top ranking in the number of deaths and injuries resulting from traffic accidents.
More than 25,000 Kuwaitis, mostly relatives of those involved in accidents, are affected every year, the strategy, prepared by an international expert, said.
The money to be spent by Kuwait to deal with accidents will represent around 6 per cent of its GDP.