By Abdul Kareem Al-Diyabi
TAIF – About two months after the mayor of Taif burned midnight oil with Civil Defense officials to discuss the prospect of shifting the waste dump in the city to a remoted location, it turned out that the meeting was meant just to cool the anger of the public.
“More than 55 days have passed after that meeting but the mayoralty has not taken any measure so far to shift the dump to a safer place away from residential areas,” said Saad Al-Thubaity, a resident. The dump produces poisonous gas and smoke, polluting the environment in this tourist city.
He said the mayoralty has disowned its responsibility by blaming illegal foreign workers for burning waste in the dump and refused to take any remedial measures.
“We are still facing this big environmental problem despite our calls for the mayoralty to solve it as quickly as possible in order to protect the people against various diseases,” said Thubaity.
“We want action, not just promises,” he told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.
“The poisonous smoke that comes out from the dump has tarnished the image of Taif as a tourist center,” Thubaity said and urged the Makkah governorate, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs to intervene.
The waste dump has been affecting lives of people in Sehaili, Qalt, Jabara and Qamariya districts east of Taif. In 2014, the mayoralty decided to shift the dump to a new place along Hadhn Road.
“Shifting the dump to another place is the only viable solution to the problem,” said Mohammad Al-Harthi. “People living in the eastern part of Taif are disappointed by the mayoralty’s negligence toward this important environmental issue,” he told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.
Al-Harthi said chest diseases have increased among the residents of Taif’s eastern districts as a result of the toxic fumes that emerge from the dump site.
“People close their windows to avoid smoke and bad smell from the dump entering their houses. This dump has left a negative impact on the health of residents, especially the elderly and children,” he added.
Salim Al-Quthami rejected the mayoralty’s justifications on keeping the dump in the same place and urged the organization to solve the problem without further delay.
In a previous statement, the mayoralty had pointed out that illegal workers were to be blamed for the problem. It said the workers set the waste on fire in order to extract metal parts for recycling, with the wind blowing smoke from the fire to nearby residential districts. It also pointed out that the burning took place away from the dump.
“The mayoralty has dealt with the issue in an irresponsible way. What was the purpose of the mayor’s meeting with the Civil Defense officials? Was it just to cool down the public?” Al-Quthami asked and called for a quick solution to save the city and its people from a chronic health disaster.