x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Cash offered to sewage informers

Dh2,000 is to be paid to members of the public who inform on lorry drivers illegally dumping their sewage in Dubai.

DUBAI // A cash reward of Dh2,000 (US$545) is to be paid to members of the public who inform on lorry drivers illegally dumping their sewage in Dubai. More than 55 tanker drivers have been caught this week dumping sewage into the storm water network or in open areas in Dubai. The municipality has said it wants to end the scourge.

"We offer each informer a cash reward of Dh2,000 in order to put an end to this phenomenon for once and all," said Salem Bin Mesmar, the assistant director of environment control. "This illegal raw sewage dumping has resulted in polluting part of the emirate's coast line. Our staff are now keeping a close watch on these law breakers who empty the tankers between midnight and 5am daily so as to avoid detection."

People are being been asked to call the free number 800900 when they see sewage being dumped illegally. Drivers have been breaking the law to avoid queues of up to 16 hours at the Al Aweer sewage treatment works. Last week, the municipality warned haulage companies that broke the law that they could face fines of up to Dh100,000. Tankers would be confiscated and trade licences suspended if companies were found to be in breach of the regulations.

Firms that altered their tankers to dump illegally through concealed holes would also face penalties. Despite these warnings, offenders were still caught this week, forcing the municipality to launch the cash reward campaign. Mr Mesmar said owners of all the tankers caught dumping sewage were fined Dhs100,000. Drivers were found disposing of the raw sewage in the Jebel Ali, Al Qusais, Al Manama, Leseily, Lehbab and Al Aweer areas, he said.

Last month, the shore of the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club was flooded with sewage. A stretch of the beach was eventually closed and swimmers were warned to stay away. Mr Mesmar said the department believed four or five tankers were breaking the law each day. It hopes a new electronic queuing system at the treatment plant, due to be in place by the end of the next month, would help alleviate the problem.

It is also opening a 50,000 square metre lorry park. A sewage treatment plant is being built in Jebel Ali that is due to open next year. pmenon@thenational.ae