Tuesday, 06 November 2007
By Adel Al-Malki and Mohammed Al-Kinani
JEDDAH - Police blamed this city's mayoralty for the recent garbage dump fires, which they said was started by illegals.
Col. Misfir Al-Ju'aid, Jeddah police security spokesman, said the mayoralty did not take the necessary precautionary measure to stop these illegals from entering the garbage dump yard.
Makkah Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal held a meeting with city officials about the fire, where he asked them to take all necessary steps to prevent this from happening again. The meeting followed a protest where hundreds of residents of the eastern part of Jeddah banded together to close off the garbage yard where fires have repeatedly broken out in recent days, preventing more garbage trucks from dumping all Sunday night.
The people asked for immediate closure of the place because of chronic, noxious fumes as well as the thick cloud of smoke from the fires that covered area neighborhoods. Officials were able to calm the crowd after a few hours.
Saeed Rajab, a resident of Al-Samer district, said the smoke - especially since recent fires - was driving locals insane.
"How can we sleep when the clouds of smoke enter our homes and our children's lungs?" he asked. "I took two of my children to the hospital because they are suffering from asthma, and the fire continues to burn. For this reason, we will not allow the municipality's trucks to enter the area, even if the Mayor of Jeddah comes."
Most of the population fled from these neighborhoods to Jeddah's Corniche, while others went to hotels and furnished apartments, particularly as clouds persisted.
"We will not accept promises from the municipality any longer," resident Mesfer Al-Amri said. "One of the municipal officials even denies that there were fires at the site now. We closed the entries of the garbage yard in front of attending officials who have seen the fumes and told them that our children will not move until the solutions that we've heard for years come to pass."
Brigadier Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, Director of the Civil Defense Department, said that the fires resulting from dumps have become a nightmare.
"There are other fires that start daily in this city, not just here," he said, adding that his office has received dozens of calls about the fires since they began.
"Two days ago, we had a big fire where eight teams of firemen struggled to fight the fire. Only two days later, we are here to put out a fire that could influence not only people but also the environment," he said.
Al-Ju'aid said that the wind has played a major role in the spread of the smoke over the whole city.
"The dump is away from the residential areas, but people in remote places complained due to the smoke," he added.
Al-Ju'aid said the fast growth of Jeddah has made what happened unavoidable.
But with authorities' efforts to move the dump to a remote place within two months, things will change, he said.
Jeddah Mayor Adel Faqih will visit both the new site and the current dump where the fire started on Saturday.