JEDDAH: Irfan Mohammed
Published — Wednesday 27 March 2013
Last update 29 March 2013 11:28 am
A shortage of water is hitting several localities in Jeddah where residents are desperately searching for water tankers.
The unprecedented shortage of water has led water tankers being exempted from the traffic ban, yet a scarcity of tankers still prevails.
Several residents, the majority of them Saudi citizens, are waiting in long queues for water tankers at water-filling stations at Makrona Street near to Al-Tahlia.
Families who are willing to buy water at any cost are not able to get a water tanker in time.
Water tankers that are usually delivered within the hour are now taking more than 72 hours to reach residents, with many saying they have resorted to visiting the supply center in Tahlia after losing hope of getting anywhere through call centers.
There is the choice of a 19-ton, 11-ton or 7-ton water tanker size, but Jeddah residents usually prefer having a 19-ton capacity.
A Saudi lady by the name of Umm Salwa told Arab News yesterday that she has been waiting for a water tanker since 9 that morning to no avail after repeatedly asking tanker drivers to deliver a water tanker to her house in the Ruwais area.
An Indian resident of the Sharafia district, Khaja Masud, said that he had waited for nearly four hours yesterday only to return home to continue rationing whatever water he has left. He said that he agreed pay SR 350 for a 19-ton water tanker that actually costs SR 123, yet the driver refused to deliver, saying that the roads in his area were too narrow.
Equally, a Yemeni citizen who wished to remain anonymous, said that he is trying his luck but remains uncertain as to whether he will get anywhere in his search for water.
Residents whose residential buildings having watchmen are tasking them with standing in queues for water while those who do not have that luxury have no choice but to wait for hours and report absent or late at their jobs.
A Pakistani water tanker driver of 14 years has said that he is seeing a water crisis for the first time in Jeddah.
The water crisis had previously been blamed on the traffic ban of heavy vehicles during peak hours in the city. Yet the water shortage crisis still ensues even after Jeddah Governor Prince Meshal Bin Majed exempted water tanks from the heavy vehicles ban.
Engineer Abdullah Al-Assaf, director general of the National Water Company in Jeddah, told Arab News that the problem has persisted due to tanker operations being halved in the wake of the initial ban.
He said that “Tankers that would have previously been available around the clock are now only plying for 14 hours at a time.”
He expressed gratitude to Prince Meshal Bin Majed for temporarily exempting water tankers from the ban, further adding that “the Jeddah Governor will re-evaluate the ban in two weeks. Furthermore, discussions are under way with traffic police and authorities to designate a new time-slot for water tankers.”
Abdullah Al-Assaf also revealed that “an additional 200,000 cubic meters of water will be provided for the city of Jeddah in two weeks; that should solve the water supply problem. In the past four years, there have been no water-related grievances in Jeddah and tankers would typically deliver water within 15 minutes,” he recalled.
Al-Assaf also said that the National Water Company supplies million cubic meters of water to Jeddah from the Tahlia and Shoaiba plants, with 2,000 water tankers operating in 4 water refill stations.