Residents demand cleaner Sharjah streets

The rubbish breeds disease and vermin, say angry locals, who are petitioning the municipality to clean up the streets.

SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, July 11: People walking on the street with full of litter on the road and streets at Rolla area in Sharjah.  (Pawan Singh / The National) For News. Story by Yasin

SHARJAH // Fed up with streets littered with refuse and debris, and fast becoming a febrile breeding ground for vermin, angry residents are petitioning the municipality to clean up the rubbish. Waste paper, plastic bags, gum wrappers and discarded cups have long blighted the city's streets, despite the municipality recently contracting a private company to blitz the mess. Residents complain the litter attracts rats and insects, presenting a threat to public health. The waste management company Bee'ah was contracted by the municipality to take over street-cleaning duties a year ago. But in the face of a mounting detritus problem, residents are urging the authorities to intervene once more. Mohammed al Naqbi, a resident of the Shuwayhen area, said rats and other vermin were an enduring problem, and complained that he had never seen anyone from Bee'ah coming to clean the streets. "Mice and rats are common," he said. "We live in constant fear of getting sick from the diseases they transmit." Salem al Owais, the chairman of the Sharjah department of municipalities and agriculture, and the chairman of Bee'ah's board of directors, said Bee'ah is to build a recycling plant for household waste, tyres and construction waste. That would be followed by another recycling plant for electronics, Mr al Owais pledged, though he could not give a date for the plant's completion. Khalifa Abu Khalid, an Emirati who lives in the Fayhaa area, said the plague of flies and other insects in the neighbourhood were a direct result of the refuse piling up. "All this is brought about by poor waste management and illegal littering," said Mr Abu Khalid. He called for more efficient use of resources, and a campaign to step up public health awareness. "The private company has not introduced enough awareness campaigns. It has done well by circulating garbage cans on almost every street, but people don't know that these cans exist." Sultan al Mualla, the director general of Sharjah Municipality, stressed that hygiene was among the municipality's top priorities. He denied that Beeah had failed in its duty to keep the Emirate tidy. Mr al Muallah said the company deserved credit as it had reduced waste by 13 per cent in its first year of operating. "It should be understood that Bee'ah is in its initial stages of re-organising the Emirate. So far it's doing well," he said. Bee'ah is introducing a drive to collect and dispose of rubbish through recycling and reuse, a spokesman for the company said. "We have also recently sent out a fleet of small cars to clean the streets," he said. "Very soon residents will see a change." The municipality has recently introduced measures such as classifying solid waste into domestic, industrial, construction, agricultural, medical and electronic, as well as building a waste dumping and recycling plant in the Sajaa industrial area. Bee'ah was building on these initiatives to make the Emirate cleaner, Mr al Mualla said.