Stock Kuwait people expats skyline
Expats in Kuwait. For illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Yasmena Al Mulla

Kuwait City: The Joint Ministerial Committee that has been tasked with following up on the situation in Jleeb Al Shuyoukh, will soon crack down on expats with expired residency permits.

The committee will also take action against those working without a commercial license and shut down unregulated food markets, local media reported.

The committee, which works in coordination with the Ministry of Interior, Kuwait’s Municipality and the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM), was set up in December 2019 to ensure that no violations are taking place in the neighbourhood. The main focus will be on eradicating unregulated food markets, apprehending visa violators and eliminating unlicensed commercial businesses from state property.

The setting up of illegal markets have been going on for years, especially in areas that are pre-dominantly populated by labourers.

In September 2020, the makeshift markets began growing, after they had slowed down due to the lockdown enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19.

According to Al Seyassah, many labourers prefer buying their groceries, even clothes, from the makeshift markets as they tend to cost almost half of the original price in supermarkets and shops.

These makeshift markets are most common in areas like Jleeb Al Shuyoukh, Khitan and Farwaniya.

Visa violations in Kuwait have hit a new record, with around 180,000 in the country being without valid residency permits, Al Rai reported, as of the beginning of the year.

A 38 per cent spike occurred since August 2020 where the total number of visa violators was around 130,000. Since then, many residents took advantage of the grace period and amended their status.

The Ministry of Interior introduced the first grace period back in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the past year and a half, the grace period has been extended due to several factors, ranging from halting of bureaucratic transactions as offices remained closed to the disruption of flights due to lockdown measures around the world.