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DOHA: The death of a three-year-old Omani girl after falling into a sewer manhole in Al Wakra recently and the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning’s refusal to own up moral responsibility for negligence have led to angry reactions in sections of the Qatari community.
A heated debate is raging in the community over the safety of children in the country where, recent media reports suggest, some 40,000 children are injured annually due to falls, poisoning, burns, choking and being hit in driveways.
“Are our children safe?” is the question being asked by many in the community, as shown in comments posted on local social networking sites.
And the civic ministry shifting the blame for the manhole tragedy to a private cleaning contractor seems to have angered people.
“We are not convinced by what the ministry has to say,” was how some commentators have reacted.
“It is the ministry which must be held responsible for the tragedy,” said some. But all of them said they were extremely saddened by the girl’s death.
The girl fell into the manhole near her home in Al Wakra some two weeks ago during a clean-up which was carried out by municipal workers at about 8pm, and they didn’t even notice that a child had fallen into it. The workers put the lid back on the manhole after the clean-up and left.
The parents of the child began looking for her all around when she didn’t return until quite late in the night. Many neighbours joined the worried parents in the search, but in vain.
It was then that a neighbour suggested that civic workers were there and they had opened the cover of the sewer manhole for cleanup and put it back and gone and maybe she had fallen in by accident.
People then took the lid of the manhole off and discovered to their horror that the child, Arreem, was lying dead, Al Sharq reported yesterday.
It was a huge shock for the parents as they had lost their nine-year-old son in a road accident just five months ago. The boy had perished when his father’s car was hit by a careless motorist who was talking on the mobile phone while driving. The case is still on in the court.
The manhole incident was reported to Al Wakra police, which summoned the manager of the civic contracting company, and arrested the worker. He was later released on a personal bond.
The Ministry has shifted the blame for the incident to the company which, it said, had been awarded the cleaning contract.
“Our workers do not clean up sewer manholes. We have contracted the work to a private company,” the Ministry told
“We are not to blame. We can catch the company only when it does not do the cleaning work properly,” the Ministry was quoted as saying by Al Sharq.