NEWS FROM THE UAE
SOURCE : THE NATIONAL/SEVEN DAYS/
Illegal worker boss fined Dh6.4m
DUBAI - OCT 16:An Indian man has been fined Dh6.4 million and jailed for two months for employing 94 Asian men illegally in Dubai, prosecution and labour ministry officials said today.
the Labour Ministry under secretary, Humaid bin Deemas, said the case was the biggest of its kind the country had seen in terms of the fine imposed and the number of illegals employed by a single company.
“Whoever thinks of employing an illegal worker aims to do our society great harm as well as harm to the worker he employs.
"Our laws aim to protect workers and secure their rights. Workers’ rights are a red line that must not be crossed,” Mr Deemas said today.
He said it was the obligation of the labour ministry the police, prosecution and immigration authorities to uncover and prosecute such violations in the local job market to ensure a stable and secure society.
The case first came to light in late August when several illegal workers at the company complained to the Labour Ministry they had not been paid.
Immigration inspectors found that the majority of the employees at the electro-mechanical contracting company, had either absconded from their legal sponsor, or were infiltrators who entered the country through unofficial ports of entry or were overstaying in the country on expired visit visas.
Water system polluters face stiff penalties
DUBAI - OCT 16: Polluters who dump sewage and toxic material in Dubai will face jail, a fine of Dh100,000 and the seizure of their truck, a municipal official said.
The announcement comes as new complaints emerged at Dubai Internet City about the problem, which has recently made headlines due to sewage fouling the waters off the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club.
Abduldeen Saifai, the director of drainage at Dubai Municipality, said: “We are going to get really tough with the strictest of fines, Dh100,000 (US$27,000), six-month impoundment of their truck and a possible prison sentence.”
He said the decision was taken “after what seems to be a persistence by the dumpers to find new areas”.
Dubai Municipality said it was setting up a special team to help to catch tanker drivers who dump waste, and was working day and night where it was known to be happening.
However, he stressed the municipality needed the help of residents.
“People need to report those who dump. We can’t be everywhere and know everything, but so far things seem to be improving.”
Some sewage tanker drivers have been dumping their waste in the city’s storm water drains to avoid waiting up to 18 hours at the city’s only treatment centre.
People working at Dubai Internet City have complained that pools of foul-smelling, algae-infested water have formed near several of their car parks.
Mr Saifai said this water was dumped in the drainage system by workers at a neighbouring building site, and not by tanker drivers, but the problem would be dealt with.
“The water in DIC is not from sewage lines,” he said.
“The reason for algae is because it is old, stagnant water that has been dumped from a nearby construction site.
“We have served them their notice.”
He maintained the municipality was doing all it could to keep the waters clean.
Some workers at DIC say they have had to wrap plastic bags around their ankles when getting in and out of their cars to avoid contact with the water that is sometimes five inches deep.
“The smell is so horrible it makes me sick; there is algae all over and floating bits in the water,” said one Hewlett Packard engineer.
Another HP engineer said he got to work an hour before his shift to avoid parking in flooded areas of the car park.
“I get there as early as 7am, an hour before the start of my shift just to find a good spot to park my car and avoid walking through the sewage,” he said.
An Indian working in Dubai Internet City said the sewage had been seeping into the car park for a couple of months.
“It really stinks here... sometimes the sewage is gushing out,” added the 29-year-old.
Lorry drivers say some among them will continue to dump illegally unless capacity at Dubai’s only treatment plant is raised, The National reported last week.
Al Aweer Treatment Plant sees nearly 10,000 sewage tankers lining up to empty their waste each day at its 40 sewage discharge pumps.
Meanwhile, police are trying to help the municipality catch the dumpers. They will assist the special team, which will monitor manholes that lorry drivers have been using to dump their sewage.
So far more than 4,000 manholes in the Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim areas have also been welded shut to deter dumping.
Earlier this month, the Dubai Offshore Sailing club suspended all sailing and closed its beach because of the polluted water. The nearby beach remains closed, although it appears that no more sewage is pumped into the harbour.
The municipality has also set up a telephone line, 800 900, for residents to report offenders.
Website publishes air quality updates for capital
ABU DHABI - OCT 16: Air quality and the levels of dangerous toxins in the emirate are being published hourly online from today.
The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) has launched the Abu Dhabi Air Quality Index to measure air pollution at 10 sites around the emirate.
The index will show levels of five major pollutants: nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, ground-level ozone and particle pollution.
A colour-coded system will show concentrations of pollution compared to health limits set out in the Abu Dhabi air quality guidelines.
Green will mean good air quality; yellow, moderate; orange, risk for some groups such as children and the elderly; red, unhealthy; purple, very unhealthy; and maroon, hazardous.
“Our emirate is developing quickly and is undergoing a lot of physical change and growth,” said Majid al Mansouri, the EAD secretary general.
“This transformation is expected to bring a lot of benefits to our people and future generations. But only if properly managed,” he said.
Last year EAD installed 10 air quality monitoring stations. Three of the stations are in Abu Dhabi city – at the crossing of Hamdan Street and Salam Street, at the Khadija Primary School and at the Khalifa High School.
There are also monitoring stations in Musaffah, Liwa, Gayathi and Al Ain. Each station is equipped with automatic analysers that continuously measure air quality and transfer the data to a central database.
The network will also include data from other monitoring stations operated by other bodies. The Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority operates two stations, while the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) is soon to complete installation of eight monitoring stations.
In addition, Musaffah, where major industrial projects are being proposed, is going to have four new stations. Large property developers are also required to install monitoring equipment, with the location and duration of use of the equipment being specified by EAD.
The monitoring stations also provide information on other pollutants, such as methane and hydrogen sulphide, emitted from petroleum refineries, paper mills and tanneries.
Levels of organic volatile compounds, which could have harmful effects on the human central nervous system, are also monitored. However, neither of these substances is included in the index as there are no guidelines on their maximum permissible value.
The report, The State of Environment Abu Dhabi, published last year, showed that sulphur dioxide levels often exceeded pollution guidelines, mainly in Madinat Zayed, Habshan and Ruwais. The gas can lead to lung disease.
Nitrous dioxide, which can contribute to heart and breathing difficulties, has been recorded at levels exceeding the guidelines in parts of Abu Dhabi city, as well as Al Ain and Ruwais.
High ground ozone levels can cause respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma.
The heavy traffic in Abu Dhabi city produces high levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. The index states that traffic is a major cause of pollution in the city.
The air quality data is provided by the National Standardisation Unit for Ambient Air Quality Monitoring.
The unit is a partnership initiative between EAD and the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU).
The institute will also carry a survey to assess noise pollution levels in Abu Dhabi and prepare a plan on how to tackle this issue.
Air quality information can be found at: www.ead.ae<;br>
Body to bring cross-Emirates rail network
DUBAI - OCT 16: The creation of a cross-Emirates rail network moved a step closer yesterday as the first details emerged of the national body that will oversee the link.
Government officials told a conference in Dubai that it would soon create the company to oversee a 900km line, from Fujairah to the Saudi border, and regulate a wider network.
In turn, it could feed into an international system, currently being discussed by GCC states.
Abdulla Alkatheeri, director of the land transport department at The National Transport Authority, said the authority would create a body responsible for making policies and regulations for rail transport in the country.
It would regulate a system for passengers and freight, that would deal with national and international business.
He said that once the official announcement was made, “things will go very fast”.
The requirement for a rail link in the UAE and across the region is largely motivated by the need to move freight more effectively, though it is expected there will be passenger services as well.
Abdul al Hassan, director of planning and development at the Roads and Transport Authority, told the conference in Dubai that the city’s rail infrastructure would be co-ordinated with the new company to ease integration of the proposed national line.
Mr Hassan said: “We’re fully co-ordinating with them. The alignment is tentative at the moment, but our master plan will study the integration between the two networks.”
Asked whether the trans-Emirates railway would pass through Dubai or skirt the city, he replied: “We will try to minimise the impact of the national line on existing developments here."
The first phase of the UAE’s rail network would see a double track railway built from Ruwais in Abu Dhabi to Fujairah. Eventually, there would be about 900km of track running from the coast to the Saudi border.
The alignment of the railway, which is expected to reduce the number of lorries on the roads by almost a third, has not been finalised but is “almost clear” for Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates, Mr Alkatheeri said. Its alignment with Dubai, however, was likely to change, due to the fast pace of development there.
Mr Hassan said details of planned light railway networks were constantly having to be altered to accommodate developments being announced at events such as Cityscape.
Dubai’s metro system is not connected to the wider national project.
The railway is being funded by the Government for now, though Mr Alkatheeri said it was likely that there would be opportunities for the private sector to “step in”.
Meanwhile in Doha, GCC officials yesterday discussed the feasibility study for a GCC rail network that would connect the member states.
The GCC rail network would provide a direct link between ports on the Arabian Sea and the Gulf. Annual growth in container shipping has been more than 20 per cent throughout the Gulf, Mr Alkatheeri said.
Mr Alkatheeri, who had been in Doha on Tuesday, said it was possible the ministers would take the recommendations from the study to the leaders of the GCC countries ahead of a meeting at the end of the year.
“It looks like a good project,” he said. “That is a big decision, I cannot announce it is finished, but it is a really very promising indication from the study,” he said.
Final recommendations for the GCC project are expected in the next six months, according to Dr Ramiz al Assar, a senior transport analyst at the World Bank based in Saudi Arabia, who has been advising the GCC secretariat on rail links.
Some issues still need to be ironed out, including how the cost of the project will be split among the GCC member states.
If each state built its share of the rail network, it would be “a very feasible project”, Mr Alkatheeri said. “I think it’s a political project and I think it is something we have to work on to tie the economics.”
At the conference, Abdelgader Elshabani, senior transportation planning specialist at the DoT, said a rail line was needed to link Abu Dhabi with Dubai as the two emirates continued to grow.
The national rail proposals were presented at the conference being held at the Park Hyatt Hotel and hosted by MEED, the business intelligence provider.
Bribed For Fake Permit
DUBAI: OCT 16: An employee in the Department of Economic Development went on trial yesterday for accepting a dhs400,000 bribe from three businessmen to provide previously rejected commercial licences for their companies.
The Dubai Court of First Instance heard that the 25-year-old Emirati employee was charged with accepting the bribe and making fake licences, while the three businessmen - two Iranians and an Egyptian - were charged with bribery.
They all denied the charges yesterday in the courtroom and the trial has been adjourned until later this month to prepare the defence.
Sharjah Police to intensify traffic monitoring during peak hours
SHARJAH - OCT 16: The Sharjah Police has started implementing its intensified campaign of deploying policemen daily from 6am till 10am at various roads witnessing traffic jams during the morning peak hours.
Colonel Mohamed Eid Al Mazlum, Director of the Operations Department at Sharjah Police noted that the slow traffic movement in various Sharjah roads is mainly attributed to various factors including the lack of awareness of various drivers who are failing to abide by traffic rules.
"Some drivers do not clearly know the directions of the diversions made and prefer to use the other familiar roads to them leading traffic to crawl at some roads. The geographic location of the emirate of Sharjah in the middle of other emirates is also an important factor leading to traffic jams. Many motorists daily use Sharjah roads in going to and coming from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ajman and Northern emirates. Apart from this, the emirate of Sharjah has witnessed a drastic population increase of people residing in the emirate."
Colonel Al Mazlum noted that the huge number of people using Sharjah roads not only cause traffic jams in roads but also have negative impact on roads cement itself.
Majority of Sharjah roads are currently witnessing adjustments and new projects implemented to make people use outside roads rather than excessively pressurising on the inner roads of the emirate.