Residents of Jeddah's Kandara ask: What happened to Solidaire?


Saudi Gazette report

– Kandara, formerly known as the capital of Jeddah, has lost that title due to eight reasons including accumulation of garbage and traffic congestion. Many people have abandoned Kandara, once considered the most posh and popular districts in the city, due to poor municipal services.

The district plays host to five government departments, 15 schools for boys and girls and more than 10 big and small mosques. Kandara was the first district to host King Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia, when he arrived in Jeddah on Dec. 23, 1925 to announce its annexation to the Kingdom.

King Abdul Aziz hoisted the Saudi flag in the city and met with its people as well as foreign ambassadors and consuls. Kandara was the first modern commercial neighborhood in Jeddah after its wall was demolished in 1949.

Many prominent personalities have established their homes in the district, which was once the main destination of tourists and visitors. On Dec. 29, 2007, when Adel Faqih was Jeddah mayor, the municipality announced its plan to establish Solidaire Jeddah project in Kandara.

The municipality published the project’s designs and Jeddawis wholeheartedly welcomed the plan to develop Kandara. But the project remained on paper throughout the past 10 years, thus negatively affecting its development. Jeddawis are now asking what happened to the Solidaire project.

Ali Ahmed, 69, one of the oldest residents, said: “When we heard about Solidaire project we were extremely happy. We have been waiting for the project for the last 10 years and we have lost hope. Now we are not thinking about Solidaire because we don’t have even the basic municipal services.”

Abdullah Al-Muflahi, 55, said many problems have contributed to reducing Kandara’s glamor. “It was expected to become one of the posh neighborhoods being close to the old Jeddah airport. Today it has become one of the chaotic and disorganized districts in the city. For the past several years we have been awaiting for the municipality to make Solidaire a reality.”

Khaled Bayazid, 45, spoke about accumulation of garbage on the streets. “The garbage stays there for weeks without being removed by municipality cleaners. Lack of a traffic system to reduce overcrowding of vehicles near government departments and schools is another major issue.

He called for the traffic police’s active presence nearby government departments, schools and the popular market of Kandara.

Omar Mohammed, 56, who left Kandara about 10 years ago, said people have abandoned the district for different reasons, including shortage of parking space. Some people have left their old cars along its streets without thinking about its consequences, he added.

Mohammed Saleh Al-Ghamdi, director general of water department in Makkah region, said the sewage network in Kandara is one of the oldest in the city and the diameter of its pipeline network would not exceed 150 mm.

“We have already awarded two projects to replace damaged pipes and the projects have been completed, thus reducing leakage by 50 percent. We also clean the network three times a year,” he said.

Al-Ghamdi attributed the appearance of sewage swamps in Kandara streets to an increase in the number of residents, poor infrastructure and municipal law violations by restaurants. “The National Water Company will monitor violations and take punitive action against the culprits.”

Al-Madina contacted the municipality’s media center to know about the fate of Solidaire and the reason for its long delay, but it did not respond.

Speaking about accumulation of garbage along the streets, Ghassan Al-Zahrani, spokesman of the municipality, said efforts are being made to remove it by a contracting company. He said a committee has been set up to remove abandoned vehicles from the streets.

The committee has marked 309 old cars this year and 144 of them have been removed while 165 vehicles are missing, Al-Zahrani said and urged the public to inform the municipality about violations by contacting 940.