x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Home is a tip, say Ajman locals

Residents of a neighbourhood at Al Jurf say their area has become a dumping site that could pose health problems if action promised by the authorities is not taken.

Rubbish piles up in the Jurf 21 area of Ajman.
Rubbish piles up in the Jurf 21 area of Ajman.

AJMAN // Residents of a neighbourhood at Al Jurf say their area has become a dumping site that could pose health problems if action promised by the authorities is not taken.

They say they lack basic infrastructure including fresh water, and sewage and refuse facilities. The neighbourhood also lacks adequate roads and lighting, they complain.

The worst affected area, known as Jurf 21, is home to about 2,000 people, with about a quarter of the population occupying flats donated under the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme and the Mohammed bin Rashid Housing Establishment. Most are Emiratis.

"When we arrived here we were told that authorities would be providing all the basic infrastructure in the shortest time possible," said Abu Abdullah, one of the residents of the housing project.

"Now it is months of waiting and there's not the slightest indication that it's coming."

Representatives of the Sheikh Zayed programme and the Mohammed bin Rashid Housing Establishment declined to comment.

Ajman Municipality was providing the infrastructure gradually and had already paved some temporary roads, a municipality spokesman said. Permanent roads would be planned soon, he said.

"We have also established three family parks in Jurf 10, 12 and 21 at a cost of Dh15 million," he said. "The municipality plans to have a green belt in the area and plant trees to help the environment."

Local resident Umm Omar said the area did not even have piped fresh water. Residents were dependent on water tankers for their supplies, which was leading to higher costs, she said.

"Even these lorry drivers are exploiting the desperate situation and always increasing the prices," she said. "The municipality should ensure a decent supply of water. This is very important."

Hassan Abdullah said his major concern was the neighbourhood's unpaved, dusty roads. Visibility could be cut to zero in the wake of a speeding car during the day, while at night the lack of street lighting left the area in total darkness.

Lack of sanitation ranked high on the list of grievances. Saeed Mohammed Khaleed, another resident, said septic tanks in the vicinity were emitting noxious odours, especially at night.

The problem also extended to the areas around schools. Al Jurf has more than 10 schools, with many situated near open landfill sites covered with refuse. "It usually starts with construction waste dumping," said Mr Mohammed, who lives in front of a school whose neighbourhood has already become a dumping ground.

"A truck or two could dump in the area at night and residents would confirm the place as a dumping site and start dumping garbage from home."

The presence of waste sites near schools was also causing alarm among staff, according to one teacher, who said the threat of rodents was a primary concern.

"We have in the past asked our cleaners to help remove the garbage, but construction garbage is too huge," said the teacher.

"They have nowhere to take it. There are times when you can see a big rat running across the school from the garbage heap and, this being a girls' school, everyone would be afraid and running."

ykakande@thenational.ae