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Saudi in an uproar
Jeddah is in ruins after only four hours of rain, and Saudis face further strife if the city’s sewage lake breaks the dam. A sewage lake?
December 1, 2009 3:02 by kippreport
“The problem was in the flash floods coming from the valleys [surrounding the city]. Many [people] have developed land and made illegal incursions onto the drainage [system] meant for the floodwater. This had changed the direction of floodwater, causing the water to flow into the city,” the mayor was quoted as saying.
Yet, in spite of Faqih’s admission that the city was unprepared, Ibrahim Katbkhanah, Jeddah’s deputy mayor for projects, told Okaz that even if the city had adequate drainage systems, Jeddah, like other international cities, wouldn’t have coped with the heavy rainfall:
“It [heavy rain] happens once every 100 years. It was difficult to deal with such a magnitude of water, [even by] international standards. Even if there had been a [proper] floodwater drainage network, it would have failed to contain the damage.”
Either way, the government has pledged to compensate displaced families, which in itself is an admission of guilt, Waleed Abu al-Khair, a human rights lawyer, told The National.
“The word ‘compensation’ is enough legal evidence for me to show that the government acknowledges that it was its fault,” he said.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah announced on Tuesday that the families of the deceased will receive SR1 million ($267,000) each. He also ordered an inquiry into the causes of the flood.
Nevertheless, al-Khair plans on filing a lawsuit against the government on behalf of the families of the deceased.
And while Jeddah residents assess their loss, news emerged this week that the Saudi civil defense department evacuated residents in al-Ajwad, a neighborhood close to the city’s sewage lake, nicknamed Lake Musk, sparking fears that the lake may flood the city.
The authority did not provide reasons for the evacuation.
Why does the city have a sewage lake? And why are people allowed to live near it?
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