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Dan A'Vard/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar residents ticketed for throwing trash out of their cars could be blocked from renewing their vehicle road permits (istimara) until they pay a QR1,000 fine, according to a senior government figure.

Civic inspectors have been ordered to photograph offenders and to forward the evidence to the Ministry of Interior‘s Traffic Department, in a bid to stamp out the unhygienic practice.

littering from vehicle

Ash M/Twitter

Littering from vehicle

Ali Nasser Al Hajri, head of the public monitoring section at the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP), said fines of QR1,000 would be imposed on those caught breaking the law, according to the Peninsula.

Classified as a traffic violation, the fine would need to be paid before the Traffic Department would authorize the annual renewal of the vehicle’s license.

Residents can pay off traffic fines online through the MoI’s website or via Metrash 2.

The new measure is part of a cleanliness campaign called “We All See You: You Are Not Alone” that launched in March last year.

Since then, posters and billboards have gone up around Doha warning people not to litter or spit in public.

Public awareness

When it first launched, the MMUP said its focus was not on fines, but to raise awareness about the importance of keeping public places clean and tidy.

However, since then, senior officials have announced several tough penalties for those who violate Qatar’s public hygiene law.

That includes a steeper fine for those caught littering generally (QR200), or dumping bags of rubbish on the street or in public places (QR500).

The new fines were instituted after the ministry issued last summer that residents dumping garbage at the roadside, on beaches or at other public places in Qatar risk incurring a fine of up to QR5,000.

Prosecution

Coinciding with the launch of the “We all see you” campaign, the MMUP also set up an Office of Public Prosecution to deal with environmental and municipal violations.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Laurence Currie-Clark/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Its remit includes laws governing public hygiene, food safety, smoking bans, animal welfare and water and energy conservation.

The office can impose further legal procedures and the person could face imprisonment up to one month and fines of QR500 to QR10,000 or both.

To remind residents of these laws, the Baladiya often posts messages on Twitter:

But questions remain over how strictly government hygiene initiatives are enforced, and whether the new measures will deter litterbugs.

Thoughts?

All photos by Chantelle D’mello

A sea of dilapidated and rusted cars has enveloped nearly a square kilometer of desert outside Al Wukair, creating a final resting place for thousands of vehicles that used to cruise the country’s roads.

From high above, images on Google Maps make the rows of buses, pickup trucks and sports coupes appear structured and orderly.

The view on the ground, however, shows a far more chaotic cluster of abandoned, quarantined or confiscated vehicles.

Approximately a week after a video, shot from a camera mounted on an aerial drone, was posted on YouTube, Doha News went out to explore the property.

The site is located off Al Wukair Street and is composed of two yards. One is staffed and fenced off, holding vehicles that may still be claimed, while an adjacent open lot is home to vehicles being salvaged for parts. Together, the sites contain approximately 20,000 to 24,000 vehicles, according to an estimate of a security guard.

Some still have Coke bottles in the cupholders and personal trinkets such as clothes and key chains spilling out of the glove compartment, leaving the impression that they were deserted – or towed – in a hurry.

Others appear to have been meticulously mined for spare parts and have been left with their hoods stretched wide open, exposing the remaining components.

Elsewhere, the skeletal remains of vehicles void of seats, windshields and electronics are stacked atop one another, creating short columns of twisted metal and broken glass amid wafts of petrol.

A sign affixed to the fence cordoning off one yard says the area falls under the jurisdiction of the Mechanical Materials Management department of Baladiya, the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning.

A security guard at the site said unclaimed cars and trucks can be sold to salvage companies, which will then strip the vehicles for parts on the property.

Unwanted cars, such as those completely totalled in collisions or those that have been picked clean of all useful components, are then taken to the outskirts of the property where they are left to be towed, collected or simply sit under the scorching sun.

Thoughts?

Flies gather at a dumpster in a labor camp in Qatar’s As Sayliyah district. The kitchen is located only several meters away. Workers here say the garbage is rarely ever disposed of by city waste management workers.

J. Zach Hollo

Unable to cope with the rising amount of rubbish produced by Qatar’s rapidly expanding population, the country has been dumping some 400 tons of domestic waste into landfills daily.

This has prompted officials to consider opening a new waste management facility.

The last one was inaugurated in 2011, but the state-of-the-art domestic solid waste management center near Mesaieed is now operating at full capacity, according to a senior official from the company that designed and built, and now manages, the waste center.

Speaking to the Gulf Times during a tour of the facility this week, Stefan Kipp, regional director (MENA) of Singaporean company Keppel Seghers, said:

“Since the facility has reached its maximum capacity, most of the 400 tons of surplus waste goes to the landfill.”

Waste problem

Qatar produces around 7,000 tons of waste each day. Some 30 percent of that (2,100 tons) is generated by households, and the remainder is comprised of construction and demolition materials.

According to BioEnergy Consult, there are three landfills in Qatar, and all are running out of space – one is in Umm Al-Afai for bulky and domestic waste; one is in Rawda Rashed for construction and demolition waste; and one is in Al-Krana for sewage waste.

Because the amount of waste being produced by residents is increasing annually, Keppel Seghers has submitted proposals to the government for a QR2 billion expansion of the current facility.

If accepted, the plant would be able to process the up to 5,000 tons of domestic waste that is forecast to be produced each day by 2024, the center’s manager Oon Ee Heng told Gulf Times.

Qatar’s waste generation is among one of the highest figures per capita in the world, at around 1.6 to 1.8kg per day.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The country has faced international pressure to improve its green credentials, which will be in the spotlight in the coming days as 125 world leaders – including the Emir – meet for the UN climate summit in New York.

Qatar’s 2011-2016 National Development Strategy has listed a number of targets to reduce the amount of waste produced, aiming to increase recycling from 8 percent to up to 25 percent, and to reduce landfill waste from 92 percent to 64 percent.

At a domestic level, there have been some efforts to introduce recycling facilities at a number of central locations such as Katara and in Education City.

However, in a recent post on sustainability blog site EcoMena, writer Andrew Clark calls for more public awareness and community engagement in order to make these grass roots efforts more successful:

“There needs to be a public acknowledgement that all individuals residing in Qatar have a vested interest in pushing for greater environmental protection enforcement and accountability.

In a region that is already faced with a lack of potable water and arable land, allowing the existing course to be maintained is not only risky, it is flat-out dangerous to the nation’s survival.”

A pilot program to introduce recycling pods in major malls and popular hangouts like Souq Waqif was on the cards after Qatar hosted the UN Climate Change Conference, COP18, in 2012. However, it faltered due to bureaucracy.

Center facilities

Qatar’s waste unit does have an advanced facility to sort materials for recycling, although it doesn’t actually recycle any waste directly.

According to Kepppel Seghers, a high-tech “dano-drum”  feeds into magnetic separators, eddy current separators, and infra-red and wind sifters which can help to recover 90 percent of metals, and 50 percent of plastics for recycling.

These materials are stored at the 300 hectare facility until the government decides where they should be exported.

“Obviously we need to find at a certain point in time we will need a destination for all these materials,” Kipp told Gulf Times.

Organic waste is sent to an anaerobic digestion and composting plant to produce soil enhancers for use in agriculture and landscaping as well as energy.

Meanwhile, much of the rest of the waste handled at the facility is burned. Three units can incinerate up to a combined total of 1,500 tons of waste each day.

This facility can also convert the steam created from burning the waste into clean energy.

It produces up to 30MW of power each day, 25MW of which is sent to the national grid run by Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa).

Used tires

tires - Oriolus-Flickr

Oriolus/Flickr

The waste center also has a facility to store used car tires.

However, with some 1 million tires currently onsite, that facility has also reached capacity and is no longer receiving any more.

The tires stored at the facility are just a small percentage of the huge number of old tires Qatar is trying to cope with.

Shayan Barmand, head of operations and business development at Raetex, a company that deals with end-of-life tires, estimates Qatar has around 11 million used tires which should be recycled for use in the construction industry.

However a lack of demand locally means that the tires need to be exported, which is expensive and inefficient.

Thoughts?