There are no reported fatalities due to the flooding in Jeddah, but people are annoyed. Actually, angry. Arab News reports that the rainfall accumulation yesterday was actually greater than in the killer floods of 2009, so the Jeddah Municipality must have been doing something right, but is it enough? Commenters here, located in and near Jeddah, are noting the problems that the current floods are producing.
King Abdullah, recuperating in Morocco, has sent a message that government action is to be taken, effectively and quickly. He warns against negligence and appears to be calling for accountability. While the King always is quick to come to the assistance in the time of disasters, this year, with the popular demonstrations in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere, I suspect that an urgent government response was even more important.
The reasons behind these floods are both identifiable and not. It’s clear that the planet’s climate is changing from what it has been over the past few hundred years. That is likely part of the cause. It’s a cause, however, for which there’s actually very little to be done until its cause is better understood. Saudi infrastructure is not ‘first world’, and that’s for a variety of its own reasons. First, floods just aren’t all that common in recent Saudi history. Second, cities like Jeddah grew—’like Topsy’—and were not well-planned a keen eye paid to local geography and topography. Then there’s the problem that Saudi infrastructure just isn’t up to where it should be in a fully-developed nation. A tendency toward selecting cheap over good in contracting has consequences. And then there’s always the possibility of corruption, with sub-par materials and methods being accepted in return for cash or favors.
If the weather can’t be ‘fixed’ in the short term, that leaves fixing infrastructure. That will mean, as I suggested some time ago, a serious look at the city of Jeddah, its neighborhoods, its roads, and its next-to-non-existent drainage systems. Much has been done, but much more needs to be done still.
JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah urged the authorities on Wednesday to take immediate action to tackle problems caused by the heavy rains, warning that those who show negligence would be severely punished.
A statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said the king has instructed the finance minister to allocate necessary funds for this.
“Those who show negligence in implementing this order will face severe punishment,” the king said. “As a result of heavy rains causing dangerous damage to people and installations and Jeddah facing the danger of drowning in many areas, all necessary action should be taken immediately without delay,” he said.
The king, who is now convalescing in the Moroccan city of Casablanca following back surgery, said such measures should be taken immediately in light of weather reports that there will be more rains in coming days.