We fail to recognize our shortcomings


In spite of the optimism generated by Vision 2030, and the commitment by several ministries and public service organizations to reengineer their work processes and streamline them for a better tomorrow, there still remain a few that somehow do not seem to get it.

Take the opening of Jeddah’s new airport facilities. Promised to the people of the city for more than a decade, the airport still has not opened officially. Do not be fooled by the recent soft opening as it only caters to a couple of flights. It was promised to us in 2012, then again in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and finally in May of this year they managed to achieve a “soft opening”.

Earlier in the year, I was one of those relieved to hear that a Singaporean outfit had taken over the managing of the airport, only to be disappointed to learn that for some unexplainable reason, they had withdrawn. GACA boldly thumped its chest and took over.

Along those lines, I received an email from a disturbed passenger with regard to his travails at King Fahd Airport in Dammam. He wrote: “Let me introduce myself, I am Subi, an Indian national working at the Royal Commission Hospital Jubail. The purpose of my writing to you is with the hope that you might be able to help me.

“My story is as follows: This Ramadan, I was going to India to celebrate Eid with my family, so I booked an air ticket with Etihad Airways and Jet Airways (Dammam – Lucknow – Dammam). The flight was on 13 June 2018 at 4:30 a.m. I reached King Fahd International Airport, Dammam at around 1:30 a.m. The luggage I had was one carton containing chocolates, toffees and other things, one laptop in a bag with four gold bangles (cost SR 9,990), SR 3,000 cash, one external hard drive, some documents and Zamzam water in a plastic can. I put the carton, laptop bag and Zamzam water can on the trolley and went to the wrapping counter to get the Zamzam can wrapped so that it would go with the luggage. I put the trolley just a meter away from myself, as there was a rush at the counter. When I looked back my laptop had been stolen. This all happened between 1:40 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

“Immediately, I contacted officials at the airport and told them about the incident, and they asked me to file a police complaint at the airport police station. I went to the airport police station and narrated the entire incident to one of the police personnel on duty. He wrote my complaint and asked me to meet the captain once I returned from India. When I came back from India on 26 June 2018, I went to the airport police station to meet the officer, but he was not there. Two days later I received a call from the same police station asking the details of the incident. I provided him with the details again and requested him to view the CCTV footage of that day and time.

“Three days later, I went back to the police station to ask if there was any further news. I was informed that there were no CCTV recordings for that day and time, i.e. 13 June 2018 time 1:40 a.m. – 2:00 a.m., and that therefore nothing could be done.

“Again, on 26 July 2018, I went to the airport police station and met the captain. He asked one of the police personnel to check my report, who informed the captain that there were no CCTV recordings although the camera was working on that particular day and time.

“The point I want to raise here is how is it possible that at a place like an international airport CCTV cameras were working but not recording anything on that day?

“I would request you, if you can use your good offices to please bring this incident to the attention of the higher authorities so I might get my stolen goods back and so that CCTV recordings will be available in the future. - Subi”

To be honest Subi, I cannot understand as well how there were no CCTV recordings made while cameras are seen abundantly all over the airport. Are those just ornamental pieces of useless furniture or had the CCTV operator gone on an extended tea break? Where are the systems of checks and balances to protect and preserve the rights of passengers?

With organizations thumping their chest, I doubt if we will get the answers we seek.

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena