Last Updated: Mon Oct 15, 2012 00:52 am (KSA) 21:52 pm (GMT)

Egyptian city declares independence over contaminated water

Residents of al-Serw carry slogans to announce their city’s secession. (Photo courtesy sfhagedida.com)
Residents of al-Serw carry slogans to announce their city’s secession. (Photo courtesy sfhagedida.com)

Residents of al-Serw in the northeastern Egyptian governorate of Damietta declared the city an independent state in protest of the contamination of potable water.

Angry protestors rallied Saturday in front of al-Serw municipality building to express their discontent because neither the governorate nor the water company responded to their requests about replacing the old water stations that supply the whole city.

One of the stations was installed in 1987 and the other in 1991 with a capacity of 30 liters/second each. The two stations have gone well beyond their lifetime which not only led to a drop in their performance by 50 percent but also the contamination of the water they supply.

The Egyptian Holding Company for Water and Waste Water has promised to replace the water stations as well the asbestos pipelines that extend throughout the city, but no steps towards that end were taken.

But a statement by the company on Thursday, saying that after an examination of sample of potable water from the city, there was no contamination, aggravated many.

Residents of al-Serw soon accused the company as well as the governor of Damietta of abandoning their duties towards the citizens.

After failing to put pressure on the governorate and the water company, residents sent to the government a letter stating that they have announced their secession.

They also declared staging an open sit-in and a hunger strike in front of the municipality headquarters until the independence comes into effect, said Ammar Fouad, coordinator of the Popular Committee for the Defense of al-Serw.

The protestors, Fouad added, also gave the government the option of annexing the city to the Dakahlia governorate, also in the northeast.

The Governor of Damietta, General Mohamed Ali Fleifal, had visited al-Serw last week and gave instructions to Sayed Rabea, head of the water company, to take the necessary measures to change the stations and the pipelines, the Egyptian newspaper al-Youm al-Sabea reported.

According to Rabea, the new station has already been designed to replace the old ones and will have a capacity of 300 liters/second.

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