Kuwait Taxi Overload

KuwaitTaxi

There is not real taxi monitoring service in Kuwait. Like the RTA in Dubai, every taxi driver fears the RTA, they have a lot of power on each individual taxi or the company as a whole. In Kuwait its only the police and no real monitoring from other authorities. For the past several months Abdelfatah has been taking licenses away from expats and blaming expats for the traffic when in reality it is the government employees who are causing 90% of the traffic. Their solutions never tackle the root of the problem because they don’t want to knock on the road doors, they want to make it seem like they are taking action in the public’s eye.

Now lets tackle the Taxis in Kuwait, most of them run without their meters, and they carry multiple passengers over many stops without a questions. When in reality it should be from point A to point B with the meter running. They make up values and charges as they see fit. There are a lot of Taxis in Kuwait and there is a need for them, but a bit too many from what I have seen.

A majority of the Taxi companies in Kuwait are owned by people working the Ministry of Interior, colleagues of Abdelfatah, that is why they get their way and some of these taxis don’t give a crap the way they drive, they say their boss is a policeman whenever they get into an accident. Most of these Taxi companies have a limit of 30 permits per company, that is the rule that seems to be in place, but in reality they are upwards of 100 taxis, and a few are at 200 taxis. There is a need in Kuwait for proper transportation management, but abuse of this kind seems to be coming from the employees of the Ministry of Interior. If people are complaining about traffic, then this is the beginning of the problem, more Taxis then they are permitted to have, and taxi services are not being supervised or regulated by the right authority to keep the service level up.

I’m all for applying the laws on the books, but you have trouble with that when a large percentage (more then 10%) of the police are illiterate and barely have any knowledge of the law. Then they abuse the power they have against expats because Abdelfatah wants results. But it doesn’t seem like anyone is tackling the Taxis which is one of the main problems at hand.

False Police Accusations

I always try to think better of those in public service even when I have dealt with some scumbags but there are good people working in the public sector, even when they are hard to find.

Case 1:

This happened on Sunday last week, one of our coworkers, a 40+ yearold indian gentlemen came into work late which is odd for him because he is usually the first person there. He told me that he got his license taken by the police, when he asked why they just told him its a 5 KD fine and to go away. He told me that he was stuck in traffic going under the 5th ring road heading towards Bida’a round about, Rumaithiya on your right and Salmiya on your left. He said there were police checking car after car, and he was slowly moving in a que. Then the police men at the check point told him to pull over, there were news cameras taking pictures of police men giving tickets to foreigners and drivers. So when he gave me the form it said 120/80 meaning that he was speeding 40 kph over the speed limit which I knew was a lie since he doesn’t drive over 70 kph. They were basically pulling people over and giving mass fines, they took over 50 licenses, and the photographers were snapping away as if they are doing a great job. So what is a foreigner supposed to do, I called up a few people and turns out it was a publicity stunt for the MOI. The process to get your license is hell and to try to prove its a false accusation is nearly impossible. At the end after calling several people I managed to get his license after about three days of looking for it. But how can you prove that they are falsifying information when they don’t have to prove what happened.

Case 2:

My friend left Signor Sassi with his family in front of him. He was in the left lane to make a u-turn on a Thursday night from the GulfRoad. The u-turn was packed but going straight was empty so he cut right while the road was empty and sped up to catch up with his cousin and family in the other car. He got to about 100 kph while the speed limit was 80 kph, and way back there was one car all the way in the right lane. The car suddenly sped up with only the lower lights on coming behing my friend, then the police lights came on. He pulled him over and so did his family pull over, they were wondering why he stopped him. My friend got down said hello, he gave him his drivers license and vehicle registration and told him he just sped up but was over the speed limit and he apologizes for that, and will accept that fine. Then the police men said no you cut me off and I’m going to tow your car to the police station then to the impound lot, my friend was shocked from what he said. Then the policemen said you cut me off and you were doing over 180 kph, my friend replied saying you were on the right lane and I was behind my family how could I be going 180 kph, and I wasn’t speeding at that speed. Back and forth, back and forth but the guy was being an ass towards him even though he was being very polite and enquiring why the extreme punishment for going only 20 kph over the speed limit. Then he had to follow him to the impound lot in Sharq, he called several people to see how he could help. He managed to get to friend by the time he got to the lot, he said to hold tight while he made his calls. My friend again tried reasoning with the policemen but he said no you either take your car in or I take your car into the lot. Then he said I’m getting a phone call can you speak to the gentlemen and the police men refused but then he got the number to his direct superior who told him to release him and the car, but while on the phone with his superior he said that the driver endangered my life and many others on the street and kept adding to the form. He added “reckless driving”, “endangerment to people lives”, “refusing to pullover” while on the phone to his superior so that he can get his car locked up. I know that my friend is very polite and doesn’t argue since he was still in shock but lucky to find someone that can help. Now how in the hell are you supposed to get policemen like this off the streets, who lie and do whatever they want to persecute people for no reason. Seriously this is insane, even after getting all the details sorted he was trying to stop my friend from getting his license the next day. The problem is that in Kuwait is that the word of a policeman is not questioned in court but in situations such as this there has to be proof, its getting ridiculous the extent some of these men go.

I have heard of many stories of policemen harassing females and doing whatever they want on the road. How do you expect people to respect them when they do this, its sad when its just few who are like this. They should be held responsible and thrown off the police force, and not be employed in any other government body.

Fines & Tickets


The Ministry of Interior really does have its work cut out for it, they seem to be getting worse and worse and the processes they setup for fees or giving out types of fines. I check on a monthly basis if there are any fines and I usually pay them right away, I have managed to stay out of the radar or in order for a while now, keeping it within limits of tolerance. Then I check last week to find three speeding tickets from past months and four parking tickets, with no specific dates. The speeding tickets seem very random, only two have the month date not even the day and one just say 2009. So basically they can give you any speeding ticket and you can’t even contest it, the funny part is two of the three speeding tickets were in cars registered in my name but are the home cars. All together with the parking tickets they added up to 100 KD, but the MOI guy told me that I will have points on my driving license and one more and I will have my license in Kuwait revoked for three months. I asked how would a father who usually registers all the cars in his name sort this out, his son is driving, his daughter, his wife, or the house driver. So basically they don’t have a solution for this and only fine the person who is registered to the car, in the US and the UK you would have a chance to prove that you aren’t the driver so you wouldn’t be the recipient of the points. They really didn’t think through all the possible situations, I really think that they make the system work in a way so that you have to talk to someone to get these dumb issues sorted out.

Tickets

  • 136 in a 120 in June of 09
  • 129 in an 100 April of 09(Mine)
  • 122 in an 80 in 09
  • 4 Parking Tickets

Note: This is the solution told to me from the MOI guy, that I do not know, is to get file for a replacement license and keep to driving licenses and when they want my drivers license for three months I just give them one of them and the request to pull my dirvers license will be revoked from the system and I can drive with the one driver’s license. And this is from a guy that I don’t even know, they really know how to make a very dumb system work.

Fines


I figured I would pay through the MOI Kiosk for my fines, I was curious to see what I had. I remember that I had a few speeding ones but I wasn’t sure if I was caught. There is a rule stating that if two cars are adjacent to each other when the camera goes off they throw out the picture because they wouldn’t know which car it is. I always tend to be speeding in the other lanes and not in the left lane, just a habit that has helped keep me below the radar.

The funny part is the fines I did have:

  • Illegal parking 5 KD
  • Parking on sidewalk 10 KD
  • Illegal parking 5 KD
  • Parking in restricted area 10 KD
  • Speeding 30km/h above speed limit 30 KD

If it is 30 above the speed limit they just fine you, if it is 40 km/h they take your license. I have seemed to have found the fine line and managed to keep myself out of too much trouble.

Headset Fines

So the police have something new and useless to add to their fines such as using your phone while your driving. I don’t mind this law at all, since I have been using bluetooth for over 6 years now, before even Sony merged with Ericsson. They can’t seem to fix our lights, at least install sensor traffic light systems, stream line our fine payment process, fix our roads, or fix the 777 hotline so that someone answers the damn phone.

Just for everyone’s information, the police can fine you directly and indirectly, so it is up to the discretion of the police officer. If they see you talking, all they need is your plate number, car make, and color. So they can fine you if you are moving or if they stop you. I wonder how long this is going to last.

On another note, headset sales has gone through the roof, so much so that there is a current shortage in Kuwait for almost every kind of headset.