The shifting of blame over the death of a three-year-old Omani girl who fell through an open manhole into a sewer in Al Wakra last month is sparking questions over how safe children are in Qatar.
According to Al Sharq, the girl fell into the hole near her home two weeks ago during a cleanup conducted by municipal workers. The workers reportedly did not notice that she had fallen in and secured the manhole cover before leaving around 8pm.
As the child’s parents and neighbors searched for her, one uncovered the manhole and found her deceased inside.
The loss was a second tragedy for the parents, whose nine-year-old son was killed in a traffic accident last year when his father’s car was struck by a motorist on the phone, Al Sharq reports. That case is pending in court.
Al Wakra police arrested and then released the manager of the contracting company that was responsible for suctioning the sewage.
When taken to task for the incident, the Ministry of Urban Planning and Development said the following, as translated by the Peninsula:
“Our workers do not clean up sewer manholes. We have contracted the work to a private company. We are not to blame. We can catch the company only when it does not do the cleaning work properly.”
Qatar has been campaigning to raise awareness of hazards facing children at home, including choking, accidental poisonings and burns. But residents say stricter safety measures are also needed at community swimming pools and in and around construction sites.
In November, a three-year-old Jordanian boy was seriously injured and hospitalized after falling into an 8-meter (26-foot) hole outside of the Al Sadd hotel his family was dining in.
And last month, a six-year-old Indian boy reportedly drowned in a swimming pool in his Abu Hamour compound while he was cycling near it.
After both incidents, issues of parental responsibility as well as civic safety were raised.
What has yet to be sorted out here is, who has the greater responsibility? And what more can be done to protect our kids?