Dubai clamps down on eco offences

Once Dubai won the bid for hosting Expo2020, it witnessed a rise in construction companies eager to start work on new projects which lead in turn to a rise in environmental offences. The Environmental Emergency Office (EEO) at Dubai Municipality is the task force behind cleaning up the city’s Creek, its waters and its streets, and has been working round the clock with its inspectors focusing on maintaining a safe and healthy environment.

“As many as 189 fines related to harming the environment were issued in the first four months of 2014 — a 67 per cent for the same time frame last year. We also issued 113 warnings during the same period,” Khalid Sulaiteen, head of the EEO, told Gulf News yesterday. “After the announcement of the Expo2020 bid, we increased our inspectors around the city to cope with the increasing number of companies operating in Dubai, and who in turn, also brought in more workers to carry out the construction works,” said Sulaiteen.

Since January, the EEO has been carrying out its inspections mainly in the evenings to curb the bad practices of businesses, which include the illegal sale of diesel and the illegal and improper transport of waste to and from the emirate. “We have also been concentrating on protecting the marine waters from waste, and we carry out cleaning operations through two shifts on a daily basis, as well as on public holidays, along Dubai Creek, Hamriya Port, Al Mamzar, and the coastal waters,” he explained, pointing out that hundreds of tonnes of waste were found last year along Dubai’s waters.

“To protect the waters, our inspectors monitor the activities of ships and boats, and systematically monitor the areas to check for illegal fishing,” said Sulaiteen. In coordination with the waste management department at Dubai Municipality , the EEO has also been addressing issues regarding waste management, sewage network, abandoned vehicles, illegal residences of bachelors, illegal disposal of building materials, pollutants in the desert, and violations regarding sewage tankers.

“We have also been concerned about car wash centres and garages, as some have been found to connect plastic pipes together and directly remove the oil from the car under repair, and into the drainage. We carried out raids with police and immigration teams, which are found mostly in Satwa, Sonapur, Jebel Ali and Al Quoz, and the people who carry out such negligent practices also have expired residency visas and use fake car parts in their workshops,” he said. Over the last three years, Sulaiteen’s department has cracked down on auto workshops and tankers that illegally dump their chemical waste, with the number of fines drastically falling from 582 in 2010, 21 in 2012 and down to 11 in 2013.