Water tariff hikes unjustified

Water tariff hikes unjustified

Muhammad Al-Hassani


DECADES have passed since the authorities supervising water distribution in Makkah increased the price of a tanker full of water to more than double during the two months of Ramadan and Dhul Hijja.

This measure was justified to some extent when pilgrims were mostly staying in the Central Area and then the planned districts because these areas were not connected to the water network.

The reason the water authorities gave for hiking water tariffs was because tanker drivers had a difficult time reaching the districts that were crowded with pilgrims. A water tanker needed twice as long to reach its destination in the crowded areas in order to deliver water.

However, according to the statements of the officials in charge of water, all the districts in the Central Area and the planned districts after it are connected to the water network. These statements confirm the existence of big strategic water tanks filled with thousands of liters of water kept ready to meet the needs of the Haj and Umrah pilgrims’ areas in Makkah and the Holy Sites.

So why do the authorities supervising the distribution of water continue to raise water charges during the seasons? They announce this by setting up big boards showing the prices at the water distribution points.

In whose interest is the continuation of these price hikes if the required quantities of water have already been secured for the Haj areas as was announced to reassure the public? Is raising prices little more than a service to and in the interest of water transport companies, at the expense of the consumers: citizen or expatriate? Or is the price hike in the interest of the water company? Or is it in the interest of both?
Why should the citizen or expatriate bear this increase, despite the fact that these water consumers are staying in districts far away from the crowded areas that necessitated these water tariff hikes in the past? The tanker trucks can reach them from the water distribution points without passing through crowded areas due to Haj or Umrah, especially with the existence of ring roads linking all the major planned districts of Makkah.

Why should these residents pay the price for a decades-old bureaucratic measure that has not been revised till now in order to determine if it is a reality?

The citizens have understood that the establishment of the National Water Company (NWC) has come in order to develop the water distribution methods, provide water at reasonable prices, and complete the water network in all the regions.

But to everyone’s surprise, the NWC started implementing a bureaucratic measure that is four decades old! What is the point in assigning the management of water to a national or foreign company if the situation is going to remain as it is — with tanker trucks plying the streets laden with water? How long will this state of injustice last?