Dark clouds on hori­zon as govt scram­bles to con­tain rain fall­out

More rain fore­cast • All schools closed • MEW de­clares emer­gency • Dam­ages sought

Kuwait Times - - Front Page - By B Iz­zak and Agen­cies

KUWAIT: The me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal of­fice is­sued weather warn­ings for the com­ing pe­riod, as clouds are ac­cu­mu­lat­ing above Kuwait, sig­nal­ing pos­si­ble heavy rain in the next hours and boost­ing the like­li­hood that floods may re­cur, par­tic­u­larly in some ar­eas where the soil has been sat­u­rated with wa­ter from pre­vi­ous down­pours. Me­te­o­rol­o­gist Ab­du­laziz Al-Qer­awi said in a state­ment to KUNA that the del­uge might be­gin in western parts of the coun­try and grad­u­ally spread to cen­tral ar­eas. Rain­fall is fore­cast through­out to­day, with down­pours in south­ern re­gions amid gales ex­ceed­ing 60 km per hour, low vis­i­bil­ity and seven-foot waves at sea.

The gov­ern­ment mean­while de­clared a pub­lic hol­i­day to­day for all schools due to the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing weather con­di­tions. Schools will re­open to­mor­row af­ter as­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion, the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry an­nounced. Min­is­ter of Oil and Elec­tric­ity and Wa­ter Bakheet AlRasheedi held a meet­ing yes­ter­day of top min­istry of­fi­cials, an­nounc­ing a state of emer­gency due to the fore­cast of tor­ren­tial rain. Rasheedi di­rected the lead­ers to fol­low up on all ser­vices pro­vided round the clock and keep in touch with all min­istry ad­min­is­tra­tions to se­cure pro­duc­tion, trans­port and dis­tri­bu­tion sta­tions. Plans were also an­nounced to es­tab­lish an “ad­min­is­tra­tive zone” in north and south Kuwait to deal with the im­pact of tor­ren­tial rain.

A large num­ber of law­mak­ers yes­ter­day called on the gov­ern­ment to re­sign, ac­cus­ing it of com­plete fail­ure to face heavy tor­ren­tial rains and thun­der­storms that lashed the coun­try for the sec­ond time in less than a week, caus­ing the first ca­su­alty and se­vere dam­age. MPs in­sisted that the gov­ern­ment had to­tally failed un­der the sit­u­a­tion and ac­cord­ingly it must re­sign im­me­di­ately. Sev­eral MPs headed by op­po­si­tion MPs Shuaib Al-Muwaizri

and Adel Al-Damkhi warned that if the gov­ern­ment does not re­sign, they will grill Prime Min­is­ter HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah. Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Works Hus­sam Al-Roumi sub­mit­ted his res­ig­na­tion in the face of dev­as­ta­tion and ma­te­rial losses, but his res­ig­na­tion has not yet been of­fi­cially ac­cepted. Roumi yes­ter­day toured the ar­eas that have borne the brunt of un­usu­ally heavy down­pours.

Na­tional Assem­bly Speaker Mar­zouq Al-Ghanem called for a meet­ing of the gov­ern­ment and MPs in his of­fice to­day to dis­cuss the con­se­quences of the rain­fall, but sev­eral op­po­si­tion MPs said they will not at­tend. Ghanem said co­op­er­a­tion with state agen­cies should be given top pri­or­ity in or­der to over­come the af­ter­shock of the heavy rains. Speak­ing to re­porters while check­ing the sit­u­a­tion at a wa­ter­logged bridge, he said it is now sig­nif­i­cant to work hard to re­duce re­flec­tions and save lives, but later af­fected peo­ple will be com­pen­sated and those found neg­li­gent will be brought to book. He urged ev­ery­one to work to­gether with con­cerned state agen­cies, pri­mar­ily the min­istry of in­te­rior, the army and Na­tional Guard to en­sure the safety of peo­ple.

Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Jaber yes­ter­day chaired an ex­tra­or­di­nary ses­sion of the Cab­i­net at the in­te­rior min­istry’s head­quar­ters to fol­low up on reper­cus­sions of the rain. The spe­cial ses­sion was held to fol­low up on re­sults of the tor­ren­tial rain and closely ex­am­ine con­tin­gency plans for cop­ing with con­di­tions through­out the coun­try for safe­guard­ing peo­ple and prop­er­ties, an­nounced Deputy Pre­mier and Min­is­ter of State for Cab­i­net Af­fairs Anas Al-Saleh.

At on­set of the ses­sion, the prime min­is­ter greeted the First Deputy Pre­mier and Min­is­ter of De­fense Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Sabah on his safe re­turn fol­low­ing re­cu­per­a­tion abroad. The min­is­ters then ex­am­ined de­tailed re­ports on pre­pared­ness to cope with the ex­tra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tion. The pre­mier stressed dur­ing the ses­sion on the ne­ces­sity of fol­low­ing up on the prepa­ra­tions to deal with all prospects, in light of the per­sis­tent bad weather.

He has af­firmed that any flaws or cases of com­pla­cency and slack­ness will be pin­pointed, em­pha­siz­ing that of­fi­cials re­spon­si­ble for the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties or who have failed to ful­fill their du­ties prop­erly will be named and shamed. In­stant in­ter­ro­ga­tions of the slack of­fi­cials will be held, he warned. Saleh has also an­nounced that the Cab­i­net ses­sion is open-ended - to pro­ceed till the end of the ex­tra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tion.

The min­istry of ed­u­ca­tion an­nounced ear­lier yes­ter­day that a num­ber of schools are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some tech­ni­cal prob­lems. Classes at some schools with elec­tri­cal prob­lems may be sus­pended be­cause “we do not want to risk our stu­dents’ lives,” said Min­istry Act­ing Un­der­sec­re­tary Yousef Al-Na­j­jar dur­ing an in­spec­tion tour in Ah­madi gov­er­norate. Na­j­jar af­firms that work is un­der­way to clean schools that have ex­pe­ri­enced some prob­lems, but the dif­fi­culty lies in how to ac­cess some oth­ers due to con­di­tions of sur­round­ing streets.

Last week the gov­ern­ment sacked two se­nior pub­lic works of­fi­cials, hold­ing them re­spon­si­ble for fail­ing to make the nec­es­sary prepa­ra­tions. Sev­eral MPs called on the gov­ern­ment to com­pen­sate peo­ple for the losses sus­tained dur­ing the pow­er­ful thun­der­storms that saw sev­eral ar­eas in Kuwait re­ceive more than the av­er­age an­nual rain­fall of just over 100 mm.

MP Ab­dulka­rim Al-Kan­dari sub­mit­ted a draft law call­ing for set­ting up a com­mit­tee headed by a se­nior judge to look into com­pen­sat­ing peo­ple for dam­ages. Kan­dari also said all sus­pi­cious con­tracts must be in­ves­ti­gated and the cul­prits should be re­ferred to the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tion. Many ar­eas, roads, bridges and houses were sub­merged and an uniden­ti­fied num­ber of ve­hi­cles were washed away.

Muwaizri said he will not at­tend the pro­posed MP­gov­ern­ment meet­ing to­day, adding that this gov­ern­ment does not de­serve the con­fi­dence and if it does not step down, he vowed to grill the prime min­is­ter. MP Ma­jed Al-Mu­tairi said the res­ig­na­tion of the en­tire gov­ern­ment is not enough “be­cause what hap­pened is a dis­as­ter by all means and all those re­spon­si­ble - from of­fi­cials to con­tract­ing com­pa­nies - must be held to ac­count”. Op­po­si­tion MP Ab­dul­wa­hab Al-Bab­tain said the gov­ern­ment must re­sign im­me­di­ately be­cause it has con­trib­uted to dam­ag­ing the prop­er­ties of peo­ple as a re­sult of its mis­man­age­ment.

KUWAIT: The Cab­i­net holds an ex­tra­or­di­nary ses­sion yes­ter­day. — KUNA

Dam­aged cars are seen fol­low­ing heavy rain in Fa­ha­heel yes­ter­day. — Pho­tos by Yasser Al-Zayyat (See Pages 2 & 3)

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