KUWAIT CITY, Nov 15: The Director of the Traffic Violations Investigation Department at the General Traffic Department Brigadier General Muhammad Saad Al-Otaibi revealed that fines for 1,748,368 traffic violations were not paid in the year 2023 by motorists who violated the traffic rules, reports Al-Anba daily. He explained that the value of these unpaid fines exceeded KD 44 million.
In the event of non-payment of these fines, they will be referred to the Traffic Court. The value of the traffic fines for the current year 2023 approached KD 66 million. The total value of the fines from the year 2020 until now has reached a quarter of a billion Kuwaiti dinars. In an interview with Al-Anba Daily, Brigadier General Al-Otaibi said, “It is certain that a number of these violations are due to expatriates who left permanently”.
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi said the number of licenses withdrawn in four years amounted to about 300,000. About 50,390 driving licenses were withdrawn in 2020, about 88,925 in 2021, about 100,266 in 2022, and finally, about 53,083 were withdrawn in 2023. For your information, this number includes deceased people and those whose residency permits have expired or who have left the country permanently or due to some other exceptions.”
He expressed appreciation for the decision issued by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Talal Al- Khaled to prevent any expatriate or Gulf citizen from traveling without paying his dues, including traffic fines, stressing that this decision will reduce the value of unpaid fines. Brigadier General Al-Otaibi explained that after Sheikh Talal issued the decision, the total amount paid in September amounted to KD 6.5 million.
The traffic law was established to reduce accidents and reduce the number of victims of road fatalities. Therefore, it is necessary that the law must be adhered to. At the same time, the penalties in the applicable law do not serve as a deterrent, which prompted the Ministry of Interior to present a draft law to increase penalties. The number of expatriates who were deported from the country on the grounds of committing serious violations reached 122.
This number is likely to increase by the end of this year. Brigadier General Al-Otaibi affirmed the right of any violator to visit the Traffic Violations Investigation Department if he feels that an undeserved violation has been recorded against him and an investigation will be opened. Below are the details of the interview held with the Director of the Traffic Violations Investigation Department Brigadier General Muhammad Saad Al-Otaibi:-
1. Can you talk about the development of violations, comparing the past and the present, and what you have for the future?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “The first traffic Law No. 67/1976 was approved in Kuwait. After that, some of its articles were amended during this period until the present day. For example, the penalties were amended in the year 2001, and now a draft has been submitted and presented to the Interior and Defense Committee to toughen the penalties. It will be included on the agenda of the National Assembly in the current legislative term. There is a progression in the value of the money collected in the last four years. The total value during that period amounted to about a quarter of a billion dinars, of which 66 million were collected in the past ten months of this year.”
2. Is the aim of increasing the value of fines only to generate more revenues, especially from the expatriates because they are the most numerous? Or is there another principle?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “Increasing the penalties is not intended to collect more money or collect taxes. Rather, it is intended to reduce the number of deaths and traffic accidents, which result in many material, physical and psychological losses. This is what prompted us to reconsider the traffic penal code to reduce these bad statistics. The law-abiding driver of the vehicle will not touch his pocket, but he will touch the pocket of the reckless person and also his freedom by issuing prison sentences.”
3. Is it possible to provide us with an overview of the proposed law and its most prominent points?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “I will talk about the common violations, which are speeding violations in the proposed law. The fine ranges between KD 70 and KD 150 depending on the speed of the violation. For crossing the red light, it is KD 150. For the violation of reckless driving (drifting), it is a settlement order of KD 150, for using a phone while driving, it is KD 75, for not wearing a seatbelt, it is KD 30, and finally, parking in a no-parking spot, it is KD 15.”
4. What is the beneficial aspect of reciprocity with other countries?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “Everyone hears about the establishment of interfaces that happened in the exit ports. This means expatriates must pay fines and other obligations to the state before traveling. This is the practice in many countries. It will benefit them by collecting these amounts before departure, as they are public funds.”
- Are there countries that changed part of their laws, especially traffic laws and those related to payment of fines, immediately after Kuwait changed its treatment in this regard?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “Currently, there are links and agreements between the GCC countries to collect violations and for other matters.”
- After eliminating paper violations, is the device and text messaging system secure?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “Yes, currently there is no paper recording of violations. There is now an automated system through software and a monitoring device, which is better than paper. The violation is recorded within the system the moment it is registered. A message is then sent to the violating person through the “Sahel” app. He has the right to object to it at the Traffic Violations Investigation Department or pay it immediately through electronic payment sites.”
- How does it work so that everyone knows its advantages and disadvantages? Is it safe from hacking?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “So far, it is working with high efficiency. We in the Traffic Violations Investigation Department send notes to develop the system to the crew working on the systems to improve the matter. We also take into account the crew’s comments in the periodicals.”
- What about updating the previous system of violations by companies, and governmental and diplomatic bodies? Until this time, we hear that there are problems in collecting amounts.
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “Those in charge in Information Systems are always constantly working to update their programs to keep pace with developments, either in collecting fines or otherwise, but there are no problems in collecting. If they exist, they are quickly resolved by the crew in Information Systems.”
- The fines of how many violations have been collected and not collected from government agencies and embassies?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “Previously, the violations were approximately 800,000, but now, praise be to Allah, they have decreased to approximately 260,000. Most authorities pay after updating the device.”
- In the previous system, your department provided courses for company representatives to collect violations through the user in agreement with the information systems. Did it benefit you?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “Yes, because there is no cash collection now, but rather through electronic payment sites or through the departments spread across the governorates on the KNET device. This reduces the pressure on companies and our corporate division.”
- In the previous and current periods, we have been seeing a lot of complaints from people who claim there is a mistake in the system that links the value of the violation to the person who did not commit the violation. What do you think?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “This matter cannot exist. If it happened by mistake, there may be a reason such as the theft of the vehicle’s number plates and their placement on a similar vehicle by a thief. In this case, the owner must come to the department and submit a letter (abstract report) regarding the theft of plates. We then cancel these violations from him, and the following procedures are taken after that. Any person against whom a violation is recorded and who doubts its matter can visit the department to ensure the validity of the violation.
- Although there is no amendment to the violation if the affected person is forced to pay for the violation, is this not considered an injustice? In the past, was there an amendment?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “The amendment still exists. If the violation is proven to be incorrect, we will amend or reserve it.”
- Is there any comparison between the violations committed by individuals, companies, and government bodies between the past and the present?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “Individuals pay irrespective of whether they have a traffic transaction or not. In the past, payment was only made at the Traffic Violations departments but now it is not accepted in cash. Collection is done via KNet or through other programs such as Sahel and the Ministry of Interior’s website. In the past, companies used to pay through our Companies Division, but now payment is made through the Ministry of Interior’s website using KNet. This made it easier for companies to complete their transactions without the need to visit the Companies Division, and this applies to government corporations and agencies.”
- What is the value of the accumulated violations from 2020 until now?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “In 2020, the number of unpaid violations was 558,557, amounting to KD 15,766,925. In 2021, the number of unpaid violations was 741,643, with a value of KD 19,749,750. In 2022, the number of unpaid violations was 1,276,622, with a value of KD 34,646,020. In 2023, the number of unpaid violations was 1,748,368, with a value of KD 44,581,515. We collect these violations, but in the event of non-payment, they are referred to the traffic court to prevent them from being subject to a statute of limitations.
- What is the most common medium for collecting traffic fines?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “Through electronic payment, either on the Ministry of Interior’s website or the Sahel application, and then in the capital’s violations section.”
- How many have entered prison from 2020 until now? How many were deported through the traffic department during this period?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “About 2,066 went to prison in 2020, about 2,713 in 2021, about 3,351 in 2022, and about 2,461 in 2023. As for the number of deportees in the year 2020, it was about 35, about seven in 2021, about 78 in 2022, and about 122 in 2023 so far. This number is expected to increase as the year goes by.”
- How many citations were issued for reckless driving, imprudence, and not carrying a license?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “Direct and indirect citations issued for reckless driving in 2023 were about 19,988, and for driving without a license about 55,090. Many of them are juveniles. We appeal to parents to be careful not to give their cars to minors because there are long penalties for them.”
- What is the latest collection of violations and their value?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “At the end of each year, collections range between approximately KD 60 million and KD 70 million.”
- We receive questions about some committing violations using cars registered under others’ names. What action is taken in this regard?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “The vehicle driver is responsible for the violations at the time they are committed. Once this is proven to us, we take measures to transfer these violations to the violator in accordance with the procedures.”
- How do you view the decision of the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior to ban the travel of expatriates and Gulf nationals without the payment of dues?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “It is a correct decision. For your information, the amount collected in September amounted to KD 6.5 million.
- Many people do not know what points a violator accrues and what procedures are followed. How many people have points withdrawn?
Brig. Gen. Al-Otaibi – “Article 42 (bis) of the Traffic Law stipulates the subject of points, in which the violation is issued directly to the violator. As for indirect violations, there are no points for them.
This article was organized more clearly in the ministerial decision:
1. Withdrawal of the driving license for a period of three months if the total points reach 14 the first time.
2. Withdrawal of the driving license for a period of six months if the total points reach 12 the second time.
3. Withdrawal of the driving license for a period of nine months if the total points reach 10 the third time.
4. Withdrawal of the driving license for one year if the total points reach 8 for the fourth time.
5. Permanent withdrawal of the driving license if the total points reach 6 for the fifth time. In this case, he will not be granted a new driving license until he passes the test stipulated in Article 16 of the Traffic Law.
These points will be erased if his driving license is withdrawn in accordance with the decision, and if the driver does not commit any other violation within one year from the date of the last violation.”
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