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Sinai people suffer shortage of water.

Summary: CAIRO - People in the North Sinai Province have been suffering a shortage of 'pure' potable water, especially the inhabitants of Rafah and Sheikh Zwayed who complain that they have to pay large sums of money to buy water.

According to a recent report by a Cairo Arabic magazine, they are urging the concerned officials to intervene and solve the problem, threatening to block the water lines to Arish, capital of the province. Residents have also announced similar plans for the International Coast Road, which passes the governorate if they receive no positive response.

They also complain that electricity lines have not yet been extended to some villages in the province and that border villages have weak mobile services.

A delegation from the tribal leaders and the people met with deputy governor Adel Katamesh and handed him a list of five demands, warning that they would escalate their measures to press the authorities to meet their demands.

Despite a water crisis, the people in North Sinai last week closed the water station in the village of Teloul, west of Arish, calling the government to provide jobs for their sons in the water company, which aggravated the water problem. Others interfered and ended the sit-in and a battle was in the making, but some reasonable people defused the problem.

According to the weekly magazine Akher Sa'a, the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation issued a report in October 2011 revealing that up to five million cubic metres ground water from the Sinai makes its way into Israel annually, due to a leak of water from west to east. The reports stated that from the scientific point of view, blocking the leakage is not an easy job.

The first of the five demands submitted to the deputy governor is providing 'pure' drinking water, since what pipes carry to our houses at present is saltwater, unfit for human consumption, a Sinai activist, Mohamed el-Mene'i told the magazine.

El-Mene'i, a member in the Sinai Tribes Union Coalition, accused the Holding Company for Water and Waste Water of transferring the Zheikh Zwayed daily quota of drinking water, about 20,000 cubic metres, to Arish for hotels and tourist sites.

This has forced people to dig deep for ground water, pump it up and store it in huge tanks.

El-Mene'i noted that it is easier for town people to buy water, but in remote villages it is not easy to buy, as the Company's water tankers carry the water to the people, but most of the time they are late even for weeks. He laid the blame on the lack of control on the Company and the authorities.

"This has led to the emergence of a water black market where few people who own their own tankers seized the chance and sell their water at high prices," El-Mene'i said."Following our threats, the opening of a desalination plant recently, the North Sinai governor Abdel-Fattah Harhour promised that we would soon have enough pure water delivered to our houses, "otherwise more escalation lies a head."

El-Mene'i warned that they were using Israeli networks in their communications. Tribal leader Ibrahim El-Mene'i, from el-Sawarka tribes and head of the Sinai Tribes Coalition, accused the authorities with discarding the demands of the Sinai people, especially for the border villages.

He urged the government to solve the water crisis, saying that most villages in North Sinai suffer from a lack of adequate drinking water.

In statements to the media, a member of the Egyptian Shura Council for North Sinai, Ali Freij, urged the government to pay more attention to the Sinai people, solving their problems.

He said that there were two projects for delivering drinking water to Sinai, but unluckily they came to a halt, before they actually started for no apparent reasons.

Freij emphasised the need for faster steps and more efforts for the reconstruction of Sinia, which he said for the sake of 'national security'.

Other demands submitted by the Sinai people to the deputy governor include providing jobs to the North Sinai inhabitants in the same towns or villages where they live; extending electricity services to the deprived villages like the Agra dn Al-Atrash on the borders; and of course enhancing the communications services in the area.

Copyright Eltahir House 2013

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Date:Apr 20, 2013
Words:721
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