JEDDAH — Despite a crackdown by the Jeddah municipality against illegal car washing in residential areas, residents are complaining that car cleaners are back on the streets, proving once again to be a hindrance to the authorities› efforts to beautify and conserve the city, a local newspaper reported.
The problem is not just limited to the car cleaners but also to drivers who, instead of taking their cars to authorized car washers in service stations, park their cars on roadsides or car parks and pay car cleaners to wash their cars on the spot.
Based on witness accounts, the problem is particularly bad in Al-Jamiah, Ghulail and Al-Safa districts. Residents there have complained of men loitering the streets late into the night, and puddles of dirty water that become breeding grounds for mosquitos and other disease-carrying insects.
Car cleaners are also blamed for damaging roads, which results in heavy traffic jams during peak hours. According to officials in the municipality, even small amounts of soaps and lubricants left behind by cars can seep into ground water, leading to environmental problems.
Hasan Ghuneim, head of Al-Jamiah Municipality, said a crackdown against expatriates who are in violation of residency and labor laws has commenced, something he hopes will help rid the area of car cleaners, the majority of whom are visa overstayers.
“A team has been formed with the help of the relevant authorities in the Directorate of Passports and the Traffic Department to carry out inspection campaigns and arrest and deport illegal expatriates back to their home countries,” he said while urging the residents and citizens to not wash their cars on the streets.
Longtime Jeddah resident Saleh Al-Amri said car cleaners are distorting the view of streets in his neighborhood. He urged the authorities to take the necessary steps to eliminate illegal car washers. Car cleaners also waste a lot of water, something car washes do not do.
“This is not just a matter of making our streets cleaner and less congested but it is a conservation issue as well. Car cleaners on the streets waste a lot of water as opposed to authorized car washes where they use special hoses that consume less water,” he said.
While acknowledging that car washers can be eyesores, Ahmad Al-Nasheri said they are a convenient option for many people.
“I always use them when I go shopping with my family. I park my car and then pay them to clean it by the time I finish shopping. Compared to going to a professional car wash and waiting for your turn to come, this saves a lot of time and money,” he said.