Ajman residents glad for quarry closures

Families living in a village in the Hajar mountains are hopeful the closure of three quarries nearby will bring some respite from the dust, traffic and noise they say is affecting their lives and making the area dangerous.
Workers at one of the three crusher sites in Al Khanfariya neighborhood. Reem Mohammed / The National
Workers at one of the three crusher sites in Al Khanfariya neighborhood. Reem Mohammed / The National

AJMAN // Families living in a village in the Hajar mountains are hopeful the closure of three quarries nearby will bring some respite from the dust, traffic and noise they say is affecting their lives and making the area dangerous.

Residents in Al Khanfariya 2 in Masfout, an Ajman enclave close to the border with Oman, hope that moves by the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) last week to close the quarries for three months for flouting environmental, safety and health regulations meant similar operations near their homes would now abide by the rules or face similar punishment.

“The presence of quarries is bothering us too much, they work 24 hours without stopping,” said Umm Ahmad, a housewife who lives about one kilometre from a working quarry. “My house is close to the road where big trucks pass and one day the kids were playing outside and God protected them from a truck that passed in front of them.”

The 30-year-old, who has lived in the village for three years, said she never opened the windows and doors to her home for too long because of the dust. She also had to have the air-conditioning unit operating continuously to drown out the noise of the lorries.

“Even though we close the windows and everything the dust enters. So absolutely it enters our chests and the food we eat,” Ms Ahmad said. “We also wake up every night to the sound of trucks on bumps as if an accident happened.”

Residents complained to the municipality and MoEW about the situation but never heard back, she said.

“Our neighbour always complained to the concerned departments about that. One day he tried to stop the trucks and he had a fight with them.

“Then the cops put him in jail for about two days because they said he is not allowed to stop the lorries from working.

“This neighbour put his youngest daughter in the intensive care because she suffered from asthma. Because of that he is thinking of moving to another place.”

Ghanem Al Shamsi, assistant undersecretary for External Audit Affairs (MoEW), told Wam, the state news agency, that the quarries were closed for committing environmental offences. These included creating too much dust from moving and loading, as well as from the main feeding units and transport belts and failing to maintain the covers of the central feeding units.

People living around the area, which is close to Hatta, often complain about the quarries. Earlier this year, residents of Al Subigha village demanded MoEW intervene to reduce the pollution they caused. They also said they were not notified of the dates or times of explosions, some of which often went on until 10pm.

Umm Saeed, who lives in Al Khnfreh 2 with her family, said they often couldn’t sleep because of the loud noise of the lorries.

“We don’t sleep at night or even in the morning due to the trucks that work 24 hours,” said the 30-year-old housewife. “Every morning at 8am we feel like there is an earthquake because of the strong movement of trucks on the roads.”

The Emirati said she had to clean her house twice a day because of the dust and was worried that it was affecting her family’s health.

Ms Ahmad and another resident, Umm Mohammed, 39, said they hoped the MoEW would either move the quarries away from residential areas or build a more suitable road for the lorries to use.

“I wish the Government can find an alternative road that is far away from houses for these trucks and quarries,” said Ms Mohammed.

Humaid Abdullah Al Mualla, directer of the MoEW, said it carries out inspection of quarries andit fines them and/or shuts them down in case they are found in violation of the ministry’s requirements.

“The competent sections at the Municipality and Planning Department carries out follow up work to ensure requirements are implemented.

“The residents do not need awareness but rather protection from the negative impact of quarries.

“The Ministry of Environment and Water, and the Municipality and Planning Department receive complaints from time to time.”

roueiti@thenational.ae

Published: December 4, 2014 04:00 AM

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