Not surprisingly, there’s a quantum of anger at the Jeddah Municipality—rationalized in the person of the Mayor—over the flooding, deaths, and destruction of last week’s disaster. Saudi Gazette/Okaz offers a startlingly harsh (for Saudi media) interview with the Mayor, Adil Faqih. It doesn’t let him slip away by changing the subject, nor in laying blame at the feet of his predecessors in the position:
Mayor grilled over poor planning for floods
JEDDAH – Angry residents are demanding to know why their city’s civil servants were not prepared for last week’s floods which caused massive damage and numerous deaths. We try to find some answers from Jeddah’s Mayor Adel Faqih.
As noted in comments to earlier posts on the subject, the search for bodies continues. Too, there are reports that some of the ‘unplanned’ neighborhoods of which the Mayor speaks have been totally destroyed. These, often of ramshackle construction, are very vulnerable to rain. Another issue, ‘Lake Misk,’ where sewage is dumped for much of the city, is high on the list of worries. I really don’t understand the thinking behind the ‘lake’, other than that something has to be done with sewage, so I also don’t understand the way the municipality is seeking to mitigate the problem. It does seem clear to me that rather than the SR 10 billion the municipality is seeking, it will take some hundreds of billions to ensure that the ‘Bride of the Red Sea’ is not washed away in either rain water or sewage.
The problems of Jeddah’s infrastructure cannot be fully or fairly blamed on the current mayor. The problems started decades ago, when the city was allowed to grow in an unregulated way. Nor do I think the problems are solely the result of corruption or venality. Inattention to potential consequences, I believe, is a serious Saudi failing and is visible here for the world to see once again.
Saudi Gazette also has an article on compensation being offered to those who suffered financial loss as a result of the flood. Car owners, it appears, are out of luck, all 4,000 of them. While the article doesn’t explain the thinking behind this, I’m assuming it’s because cars are legally required to be privately insured. Whether owners have enough insurance to cover their losses is another matter. I suspect that many owners—as the insurance companies—are going to be seeing considerable losses.