Kuwait deports expats for "grave" traffic offences

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - Kuwait has deported 213 foreigners over the past few days for committing "grave" traffic offences as part of a drive to reduce accidents, a senior interior ministry official said in comments published on Tuesday.

"We have deported 213 expatriates during the past few days for violating traffic rules and committing grave offences," interior ministry assistant undersecretary for traffic affairs Major General Abdulfattah al-Ali told Al-Anbaa newspaper.

He said those deported were caught driving without a driver's licence, used their private cars to carry passengers, passed the red traffic light for a second time and exceeded the speed limit by over 40 km.

Major General Ali, who was appointed to the post only two weeks ago, said he received instructions from the interior minister to strictly apply the traffic law to reduce the number of serious accidents.

Around 400 people die and thousands others are wounded from traffic accidents every year in Kuwait.

The oil-rich Gulf state has 2.6 million expatriates who form 68 per cent of the country's 3.8 million population.

Citizens who commit the same offences will have their vehicles seized for some time and could be sent to court.

Last month, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Thekra al-Rasheedi said the emirate plans to deport around 100,000 expatriates a year for the next 10 years to reduce the number of foreigners by one million.

She did not say what measures she would adopt to carry out the plan.

Earlier this month, MPs loyal to the government blamed mainly expatriates for causing the menacing traffic jams in the country and called on the interior minister to apply strict rules for expats to get a driver's licence.

Under a decision issued about a decade ago, foreigners need to hold a university degree, earn 400 dinars (S$1,734) monthly and have stayed for at least two years in Kuwait to be eligible to apply for a driver's licence.