By Ahmad Jabr & Agencies
KUWAIT: Kuwait on Monday witnessed closed roads and monster traffic jams after a heavy downpour flooded major highways and areas across the country late Sunday and paralyzed life in the holy month of Ramadan. All state efforts were stymied by the heavy thunderstorm, after the weather department had forecast scattered rain. According to the Kuwait Meteorological Department, rainfall reached up to 36.5 mm in Rabiya, 22.5 mm in Jahra and 13.8 mm in Salmiya.
Kuwait is experiencing its relatively short spring season, in which weather is known for being moderate, with some weather fluctuations occurring, and rain may fall accompanied by thunderclouds. During this time of the year, Kuwait is affected by the so-called “Sarayat” season, which is characterized by radical and sudden changes in weather. According to Meteorologist Abdulaziz Al-Qarawi, rain is expected to return Thursday night.
Videos and pictures of submerged streets flooded social media soon after the thunderstorm. The interior ministry announced major roads were closed including the Maghreb Road intersection with Fourth Ring Road, the Fourth Ring Road intersection with Ghazali Road (towards Shuwaikh Port), Canada Dry Road intersection with Airport Road (towards Kaifan) and Jahra Road intersection with Ghazali Road (towards City Center). The interior ministry later announced the reopening of Maghreb and Fourth Ring Roads in both directions after draining the rainwater.
First Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister and Acting Defense Minister Sheikh Talal Khaled Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah inspected the roads to check traffic and security conditions after the rain. The minister was briefed on security deployment of police patrols and the mechanism of dealing with accumulated rainwater.
Kuwait has previously suspended schools the day after heavy rains, but the education ministry preferred to keep schools open on Monday despite the road closures. “All educational facilities are safe and fine after the heavy rains,” Spokesman of the Ministry Ahmad Al-Weheidah said in a press release, adding there was no need to suspend study. Pictures and videos from Sunday night through Monday morning showed Kuwait Fire Force, police, National Guard and army officers helping in pumping out water and removing submerged cars from flooded roads.
Despite these efforts, public anger mounted on social media Sunday, and again on Monday as closures to main highways such as Maghreb Road brought most roads around Kuwait to a crippling standstill. People took to Twitter and other social media platform to denounce the government’s failure to prepare for the heavy rains despite earlier promises by officials to prevent this problem from recurring.
Long lines of vehicles extended for kilometers on various roads around the country, while traffic inside overcrowded areas such as Hawally and Farwaniya was brought to a near complete halt. “I am a victim of the roads of Kuwait. I spend most of my salary on fixing my cars due to bad roads and now my car is submerged in Salam due to heavy rains and the government’s negligence,” Huda Al-Ali said. “Who will compensate me for my car repairs? Who will compensate my family if I die as a victim of corrupt roads?”
Many people called on the government to investigate possible corruption which may have caused delay in road infrastructure projects and led to the damages that roads are afflicted with every time it rains in Kuwait.
The ministry of health on Sunday urged people to be cautious during the bad weather conditions and avoid going out in public as much as possible, especially for people with asthma and other respiratory ailments. “The current weather conditions contain irritants that could trigger asthma symptoms,” Health Ministry Spokesman Abdullah Al-Sanad warned. He also called for caution on the roads and making sure the necessary medications to deal with the change in weather are available, adding in case there is no response to the medicine, to go to the nearest health center.
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