x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Labour camps to get sewage system

Hundreds of labour camps in Dubai will soon be free of their constant sewage woes as the municipality plans a new sewage system.

Sewage water tankers wait for their turn near the Al Aweer treatment plant in Dubai.
Sewage water tankers wait for their turn near the Al Aweer treatment plant in Dubai.

DUBAI // A drainage system costing Dh86 million (US$23.4m) will be built to ease the growing sewage problem in an industrial area that houses hundreds of labour camps. The camps, in Al Quoz, currently have no sewage system and rely on septic tanks for waste disposal. Overflowing tanks are a common sight in the camps, and stagnant sewage often floods the surrounding roads. Workers have also reported suffering from illnesses caused by exposure to raw sewage. "We hope this will solve the sewage issue in labour camps," said Talib Julfar, the director of the drainage and irrigation department at Dubai Municipality. Almost 150,000 people live in the area, which has a high density of factories and camps for construction workers. Al Quoz has one of the highest sewage outputs in the emirate with 300,000 cubic metres of sewage wastewater generated each day. Mr Julfar said the new system would cover Al Quoz Industrial areas one to four, and would provide sewage and stormwater drainage. The municipality has set a deadline of 18 months to complete the project, which will include facilities along Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Khail Road and Umm Suqeim Road. Some labour companies often ignore overflowing septic tanks to avoid paying for sewage tankers to dispose of the waste. Earlier this year several sewage tanker drivers, faced with massive queues at the overburdened treatment plant in Al Aweer, dumped sewage water collected from labour camps' septic tanks on to open ground. They were fined as much as Dh50,000 and threatened with deportation. The high demand for tankers from hundreds of labour camps also led to an increase in the cost of their services. Labourers enduring the stench of sewage have repeatedly reported health problems. "This is a wonderful idea," said CK Surendran, the human resources co-ordinator at Khan Saheb Civil Engineering, who looks after labourers' welfare. "Every organisation has problems with disposing sewage and this will certainly solve this concern. Besides, it will resolve a lot of health concerns among workers." A manager for Dulsco, which has labour accommodations for 3,000 in Al Quoz, said the new system would be a "big relief". "We have to be very attentive on emptying septic tanks. Often companies are fined Dh1,000 to Dh5,000 for overflowing sewage," said Mohammad Ilyas, the general manager for engineering and property for Dulsco. "Tankers are not often available or are not able to arrive on time. "Sewage water often overflows and the reasons for this could be many. Traffic problems for tankers to reach the camp, unavailability of tankers and others are some of the reasons. "Needless to say, such overflowing tanks are a big health hazard for the workers. The new sewage network will be a big relief for all the companies based in Al Quoz." The municipality said the project would adhere to international specifications and conditions. The project will include wastewater collection and rainwater pipes, manholes, rainwater connection rooms and a sewage pumping station. More such projects may be expected in Al Quoz − the system announced yesterday will cover just 159 hectares out of the 1,897 hectares in the industrial area. Meanwhile, a sewage and stormwater system in Sonapur, one of the largest labour accommodation areas in the emirate, is nearing completion. The project has been under construction for years and will begin operating soon, Mr Julfar said. "We have finished 90 per cent of the work and will only take three to six more months," he said. A construction worker living in Sonapur said yesterday he and his colleagues feared the possibility of rain. Last year, rain compounded the sewage problem when it caused more flooding. "There may be rains in Dubai by the end of the year and this will make life really difficult for us. The streets are flooded and the stench from the leaking sewage makes it impossible to breathe," said Viru Solanki, an Indian construction worker. The municipality opened a new wastewater treatment plant at Jebel Ali in August. The plant is processing 150,000 cubic metres of raw sewage per day, and will eventually boost capacity to 300,000 cubic metres per day. The plant is expected to relieve pressure on the Al Aweer sewage plant. pmenon@thenational.ae