|As Temperatures Rise, Water Lines Grow
Hasan Hatrash, Arab News
JEDDAH, 10 June 2008 — The summertime in Jeddah means at least two things: summer vacation and water shortages. And as the temperature rises, the lines at the city’s main water distribution centers grow.
Yesterday hundreds of people were seen queued up in front of the Al-Aziziah and Guaizah water distribution plants. Water supplies have been cut in various districts around the city for the last five days. “I have been standing in this queue for more than seven hours and still I didn’t reach my turn in getting a water tanker,” said Salman Al-Harthi, a resident of Al-Aziziah district.
He said that the water supply is cut and there are not enough water tankers to buy. “This is a crisis,” he said. “We live next to the sea and we are suffering from a lack of water.”
Ahmad Kabir, a Pakistani working as a building supervisor (a “haris”) complained that the distribution plant did not allow expatriates to buy water. He said that after waiting for nine hours, he arrived to the counter only to realize that priority of selling the water was for Saudi citizens. “I have collected the water tanker’s price, which is SR114 from the residents of the building I work for, and now I’m stuck because they won’t sell me water,” he said.
Water distribution centers giving preferential treatment to Saudis was reported last summer, especially during the peak consumption month of Ramadan. The massive traffic jams and large queues of people have even prevented the movement of water tankers that was leaving the plant’s yard for their destinations.
Black market water dealers were dwelling near the water distribution plant offering their payload for exaggerated prices that reached over SR400 for a large tanker truck. (The actual price is SR114.)
“I can’t pay SR400 for a water tanker,” said Abu Saleh, a retired Saudi government employee in his 60s who has been without water at home for three days. “I can hardly afford the normal price and here I am, stuck for many hours without going anywhere.”
Jeddah has municipal water lines, but they serve different parts of the city at different times and at different frequencies. A building in one part of the city may only receive water from municipal lines once a month. In another part of the city, a building may receive water twice per week. When the water comes, building managers fill reservoirs. But when those reservoirs become empty, water must be obtained via delivery trucks from the distribution centers.
Some building managers are more responsible than others when it comes to arranging for the water-truck delivery. The best building managers ensure a constant flow of water, even if it means collecting extra money from tenants to order the water truck. Some managers can leave residents high and dry for days, or even weeks, with dry taps.
When searching for housing in Jeddah, it is highly recommended that you investigate the water situation in the district (to check for the frequency of water delivery via municipal pipes) as well as in the building — to check on the responsibility of the management and the haris to ensuring a constant flow of delivered water).