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Five new cleaning contractors will keep Mecca clean
Five new cleaning companies are being sought, to clean the Muslim holy city of Mecca when the agreement with the current contractor expires, says the local authority. The number of cleaners will be increased from 6,500 to 17,500.
Muhammad Al-Mourqi, the mayoralty's director of cleaning, has told the Saudi Gazette that some of the current cleaners engage in jobs outside of work, such as collecting scrap iron, cardboard and cans instead of concentrating on their jobs. And he revealed that the department has now "made all necessary arrangements to contract five cleaning companies to improve the standard of cleanliness" in the holy city.
He said a study conducted by his department recommended the city be divided into five zones, with one company responsible for cleaning each zone. He said that this system would enable the mayoralty's field supervisors to properly oversee the workers of each company.
The current cleaning company allegedly failed to achieve its Saudization targets, leading cleaners to go on strike late last month. The contractor is said to have also had a problem renewing residency permits (iqamas) for the workers.
Thousands of tons of garbage accumulated in the streets of the holy city in a matter of hours following the work stoppage and recent rains worsened the already unsanitary state of the streets, demanding quick intervention by the city authorities.
Muhammad Al-Mourqi said the workers returned to work after the company managed to solve the problem and that it has already renewed the iqamas of 2,500 workers, with the rest still being processed.
The Saudi Gazette reports that the cleaning company has a workforce of more than 6,000. These workers, mostly from South Asia, work on a "meagre" monthly wage of a little more than SR250. That, coupled with delays in payment and other genuine grievances, led to the workers going on strike.
Muhammad Al-Mourqi also said that hotels and furnished apartments that are lax in collecting and disposing of garbage will not be given a permit unless they produce a contract signed with a cleaning company. He revealed that the mayoralty is set to launch a campaign very soon that will aim to raise awareness amongst students about public health principles and cleanliness.
13th December 2012