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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - The Dubai Municipality said that it has warned the wastewater companies that violated the laws and regulations.
At least 39 sewage water transport companies are facing a potential shut down after not being able to pay the fines they accumulated in the last three years.
Collectively, the group has accrued Dh20.8 million fines for dumping high-toxic sewage water at the Dubai Municipality's (DM) sewage treatment plant in Jebel Ali. They claimed the fines were unreasonable as they only transported sewage water and the fines should be given at source.
The transport companies formed an informal association and trooped to the DM office early this week for a dialogue. They, however, said that the fines could not be lifted and this can lead to their inability to renew their trade licenses and permits to operate.
With the future of their companies uncertain and with the threat of hundreds of workers losing their jobs, Khalid Ahmed, owner of Global X Transport Company, told Al Khaleej Today that they are asking for a reprieve of their fines.
"I owed a total of Dh1.5 million in fine in the last three years and if I will not pay this, I will not be able to renew my trade licence," he said. "We are just a transport company. Our job is to transport the sewage water from one place to the treatment plant. The fines should be given to us but charged at source. We have no control if the toxic level of the sewage water is very high," Ahmed pointed out.
Pakistani expat Shahid, who runs the family-owned Al Rais Transport, echoed the same view. "Our company has accumulated fines reaching around Dh1 million. We charge only between Dh300 to Dh400 for collecting 10,000 gallons of wastewater. Subtract the Dh60 we have to pay to the municipality for every transport and the diesel and labor cost, we make only a very little profit. But after two to three days we dumped the wastewater and the municipality found high-toxicity level, we get a Dh4,000 penalty," Shahid shared.
"Because we could not pay the fines, they have accumulated through the years and now we have no means to pay them," he added.
The companies said an immediate solution has to be found as many of them have licences that will soon expire in January.
In a statement sent to Al Khaleej Today, the DM said that it "has warned the wastewater companies that violated the laws and regulations". "They have ignored all efforts in the field of environmental protection and public health, by the act of disposing of hazardous liquid wastewater in an inappropriate way. The municipality confirmed that it would impose the maximum penalties as conferred by the law as specified in local order No. 8 of 2002 regarding sanitation, irrigation, and water drainage in Dubai."
Talib Julfar, executive director of infrastructure services sector at the DM, said that "despite clear and explicit instructions issued to companies that are working to unload their dangerous liquid wastes - industrial and chemical pollutants - at the treatment plant in Jebel Ali, there are those who insist on violating the laws and regulations.
"They discharge toxic and dangerous materials or industrial wastewater that contain harmful materials to the treatment plant, which cause damage to the equipment of the plant and the quality of the produced water, which is discharged to the sea or through irrigation networks, thereby exposing the environment and public health to danger," Julfar underlined.
Julfar also asked the owners of the transport companies "to educate their workers in proper waste management". "The DM has organised many awareness and guidance workshops during the past years, where the seriousness of these violations has been explained," he added.
Julfar insisted that the company should bear the fees for removing environmental pollutants.
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