UMM AL QAIWAIN // Undercover inspectors will be on the lookout for litterbugs on the emirate's beaches in the evenings, handing out Dh500 fines to anyone caught dropping rubbish. The move is part of a campaign to tidy up the coastline.
The cleanliness drive, due to be launched on Wednesday, will also see cleaners picking up waste on beaches and signs erected warning people not to drop rubbish. The municipality said it followed complaints from tourists and residents. A quick walk on Umm al Qaiwain's beaches revealed the extent of the problem, with large quantities of waste, including soda cans and bottles, papers and leftover food.
"There is a serious bad smell on the beaches. The rubbish on the shores also makes it difficult to go jogging or swimming," said one resident. Younus al Haj, another resident, suggested that the municipality should hire a private cleaning company to maintain the beach daily. "The municipality should also educate people about the impact their rubbish can have on the environment and marine life," he said. "Clean-up alone will not solve the problem."
Obaid Ali, the head of the municipality's environment and health section, blamed irresponsible beachgoers, but said the recent algal blooms had also left their mark. "We have got several complaints of foul smell at the beaches but residents ought to know this is a natural factor from the Red Tide that killed a lot of fish on the shores," he said. He said that even before this campaign, the municipality had been removing dead fish from the sea and cleaning the affected shores.
Mr Ali said people should have the self-discipline to dispose of their litter in the right place. A spokesperson for the Palma Beach Hotel said the problem was limited primarily to the public beaches, as hotels tried hard to keep their sand clean. The municipality also plans to tackle the problem of litter building up on the streets of residential areas. Dr Misbah Rashid, the director general of Umm al Qaiwain Municipality, said some residents were failing to put their rubbish in the proper place.
Others did not realise the municipality provided collection services for things such as unwanted furniture, he said. "There are some people who would blatantly put the rubbish on the sides of the dustbins. At times it's big furniture and they say they cannot lift it up to the dustbin, but even then they are not aware that we have vans that can pick them up," he said. He said there were up to 16 cars and lorries operating throughout the emirate whose workers would help residents put all their waste in the right place. The municipality does not charge for collecting any rubbish.
He said it was planning another campaign to encourage residents to use the municipality's furniture collection service. It will distribute leaflets in both English and Arabic warning residents of the dangers of rubbish thrown outside their homes and on to the streets. One resident, Fadeel Abdrahman, complained that the authorities were not doing enough about the problem. "At times I wonder whether our authorities ever move to other emirates to see how well kept and tidy they are, or whether they would ever copy anything from them," he said. "Unless the emirate is clean, no tourists or investors can take it seriously."