Friday, 23 April 2010

Dumping Hazardous Waste


As some of you know, the Jet Driver likes to spend a lot of time outdoors.
Oman's beautiful mountains and unexplored trails are some of the main reasons why I have stayed in this country for so long.

The place is simply stunning and one has no problem understanding why more and more people want to come and see this great land and meet its amazing inhabitants.

I use Google Earth quite a lot to scope out new trekking and biking routes in the region, and a few days ago, I selected an area where I thought I could find a decent trail to explore.

I found a new track just beyond Al Jiffnain village, and was curious as to what the 30 metre-long dark area was on the trail, and hoping it was some kind of old building or maybe a ruin of some sort, I biked out onto the trail with a friend.

At first, we had to negotiate a fairly dusty trail with a rock crusher that was going at full pelt, grinding out whatever was being thrown into it.
Then the trail cleared up into nice rolling hills - perfect for a challenging but not overly emotional bike ride.

Then the smell arrived. And we wondered what on earth had died there.
We have experienced the smell in the past when a goat or a fox has met its demise in a wadi, but this smell was incredible.
Noxious, acrid and after about two minutes of inhaling it - eye-wateringly nauseating.

We came over the ridge and were utterly astonished to find…. this:

An area had been leveled to make it flat, like a giant truck park.
Then someone had bulldozed an absolutely huge trench and filled it full of waste oil, sewage, rubbish, animal remains, plastic and chemicals.

There is also piles of rotten industrial waste neatly stacked all along the clearing, which we could not photograph because we risked getting seriously ill being in proximity to them.

The smell was insane!
And we were quite honestly overwhelmed by the damage that this cesspit is doing to the area.

As you can see from the photos below, it has already begun to seep into the water table.

Photobucket

Photobucket

This was not an accidental depositing of hazardous industrial waste.

A group of individuals sat down in a board-room and had a meeting about this, and either through having no education, or more likely, a complete lack of care for the environment, regulations and the health of the local population, decided that it would be acceptable to just dump this stuff here and systematically destroy a beautiful area of land in Oman.

Now. I have questions.
I want to know:

Who is responsible for this?
Was it the owner of the rock crusher?
Was it one of the quarrying companies that are digging around there?
Who were the decision-makers on the ground at the time?
Who sponsors this company's activities?
Was there an Environmental Impact Assessment done?
What were the pre and post EIA reports?
If an EIA was not done, then why not?
Do the local people know that their land is being polluted by hazardous waste?
Are local people drinking water off the land here?
Are they giving this water to their children?

This area is accessible by 4x4 and even by normal vehicles.
I urge anyone with an element of clout to go up there and have a look at what it going on.

Which Ministry looks after stuff like this?
The pool of waste is so big that it even shows up on a satellite map.
For those who are interested, here is the grid reference.

23°29'27.89"N 58° 8'56.80"E

Bang it into Google Earth and have a look.

It is a total and utter criminal disgrace.

Pass this on to everyone you know.

Omanis……. your country is slowly but surely getting wrecked by a small group of wealth-hungry people who want nothing more than to make money off the back of you.
Destroying your beautiful land in order to get rich and they think that dumping hazardous industrial waste off the beaten track will not be found out.

Well, guess what?
There are more and more expats who love exploring deep inside the jebels where locals tend not to go.
I am one of those explorers….and now that I know what these things look like on Google Earth, I'm off to start looking for more.

The Jet Driver is on a mission!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Qatar....

Absolute fucking madness!

British and American citizens will be among the nationals of 33 countries that will have to apply for a visa prior to arrival in Qatar, according to new rules being enacted by the emirate from May 1.

The regulations also mean that all passengers wishing to travel to Qatar for business purposes will need to have their visas arranged by a local sponsor, via the Ministry of Interior.

British nationals wishing to apply for a Qatari visa will need to provide their last three months’ bank statements, which must show the name and address of the applicant, and prove that there is at least $1,300 in the applicant’s account.

I say again......madness!
Spiteful, arrogant, ignorant, ill-informed, uneducated, moronic madness!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

WH Smith is now in Oman

Was just reading Muscat Mutterings blog here about WH Smith's opening up where Turtle's Bookshop used to be in Shatti.

They have also converted all the Turtle's branches in the airport too.

However, a word of caution..... before you all start running to go and get all the latest books and magazines:
It says "WH Smith" over the door - and all over the shop. But it is still Turtle's at it's core!

Take this morning for example:

"Hello"

"Nyuhhhh"

"How are you?"

"Nyuhhhh?"

"Do you have Men's Fitness magazine?"

"No. (texting and also watching YouTube)"

"Are you sure?"

"Nyuhhhh?" (with the "leave me alone this is way outside my IQ level" look)

"You don't have it?"

"No. No have. Tuh!"

"Oh ok. I'll take this magazine instead then. It's called "Men's Fitness". It's the magazine that you don't have! There's five of them on the shelf over there. I'd also buy one of those copies of "The Economist" that are beside it, but you don't have that in stock either, do you?"

"Nyuhhhh!"

"Bye"

Muppets!

Where Is Muscato?

Seriously..... where is he?

JD

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Lexus Again...


While checking the financial pages on the BBC website, I happened to come across this article about that benchmark of middle-classism in Oman - The Lexus


So we now have Lexus suspending sales of the the G-series 4x4 in the US because of "safety issues". That's quite a nice way of saying "it turns over going around bends".

Now....I was wondering what Lexus Oman was going to do about this?
Or maybe the story hasn't reached these chores - up until now that is :)


Looks like quite a serious issue with the Traction Control System that is causing the vehicle to become highly unstable when cornering at high speed.
However, the reports say that this only happens when the driver approaches the corner too quickly and then lifts off the gas or brakes suddenly.

Correct me if I am wrong but....combining this problem with the almost endemic regional driving madness that we have throughout the GCC....would it be fair to say that it might be worth looking more closely at the 4x4 Lexus here in Oman in the interests of safety?
Or is what is sold here a completely different machine and not just a re-badge?

I mean, how many families with children buy similar machines here in Oman?
Couple that with the fact that most have no childseats or seatbelts and you are looking at a potential bloodbath should one of these crates fall over at speed.

After all, isn't there an ongoing Road Safety Campaign happening?
Maybe they could work together with the Lexus dealers in Muscat?
Has The Week or Muscat Daily looked into this issue yet?

Lexus have admitted to the problem and have said they will take steps to remedy it.
So, what do you think folks?
Good idea?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Omani Space Program Update

The already beleaguered Omani Space Program was dealt another blow yesterday afternoon when their primary team of six space-cadets were involved in a training accident at Space Camp Al Khoudh.

The incident was centered around the testing of spacesuits that the Omastronauts have to wear, in order to withstand the high temperatures that they will be subjected to on the surface of the Moon.

Reports state that some members of the team started to become dizzy and lose consciousness, with all Omastronauts eventually passing-out while gasping for air, in a desperate attempt to clamber back on-board Baisa Bus Three - which replaced the ill-fated Baisa Bus One which was tragically lost in an accident a few weeks ago.

(It also replaced Baisa Bus Two which, having been bought at the Toyota garage at Mawaleh last week, was accidently sold again to someone else by an over-zealous Keralan salesman.)

It was originally thought that problems with the suit's oxygen filtration systems were responsible, however, a subsequent investigation has discovered that criminal activity was to blame.

Detectives today arrested Saif Al-Lotakash, from Muscat-based "Ruwi Lunar Project Services LLC", for attempting to cut costs by using aluminium foil and duct tape instead of high-grade Kevlar composite weave on the spacesuits, causing severe broiling of four space-cadets in the afternoon sun.
Two more are still in intensive care at the Royal Hospital in Muscat, where their condition has been described by doctors as "medium rare".

Mr. Al-Lotakash denies any wrong-doing and states that the Omani Space Program's chief engineer, Mr. George Alexander Gupta told him that the foil was "Same, same sir! No problem!"

Nasser Bin Tumoon, Press Officer for the Omani Space Program, said in a meeting this morning that "everything is fine, mafi mushkala, all ok here my friends" and that he had every confidence that the team would recover, in due course.

FURTHER UPDATE re: Creatures Pet Shop

As a further addition to what I blogged about earlier this morning, I was delighted to receive a message from Dr. Elke Heitz MRCVS who's Al Qurum Veterinary Clinic have been advertised by word of mouth by a certain pet shop as their veterinary consultants:

Dr. Elke says:

With regards to the blog comment regarding the PetShop animals on this blog i would like to state that we as Al Qurum Veterinary Clinic in no way are contracted, contacted or involved with the treatments at either pet shops. We have no direct agreement with any of the pet shops to look after their pets or to do any treatments unless they are brought to us for individual treatments which we of course would do as necessary.
Unfortunately we have not seen pets taken to us by the Sabco Center Petshop for quite a long time (more than 2 years), and as far as I am informed is that they have Dr Svetlana as their veterinarian treating the animals there.

From the other petshops we occassionally have seen pets taken to us, but again this has been some time ago now. These pets are always treated as necessary but sadly often they come to us in very poor condition already.

I am aware of the problem of imported pets and the challenges this faces, but am not able to treat such pets unless the pet shops appoint us to do so.
Unfortunately I am neither in the position to comment on the treatments these pets receive as we are , as mentioned above , not involved in any way with their treatments.

The Ministry to contact for any concerns would be the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Wealth.

If any of the petshops would like to contact me to arrange additional veterinary support please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thanks for bringing up this concern, with best regards, Dr Elke Heitz MRCVS

Thank you for responding Dr. Elke, I appreciate you taking the time to do so.

JD

Creatures Pet Shop In SABCO Centre

The ever informed Undercover Dragon is running a story about the above-named pet shop at his blog here.

A while ago, I explored the possibility of buying a beagle puppy from Creatures Pet Shop in SABCO and when I got there, I was fed what can only be described as total and utter bullshit from a guy called George who works there and also another local man who claimed that all his animals had verifiable histories that were in line with all the Omani laws.

Only now am I more fully informed of the reality of what is really going on down there and also, I suspect, in other pet shops in Muscat.

Having returned a week later to have another look, I was told that the beagle had died due to a "birth defect" and that they could get me another in a week or two. Meanwhile, I asked about the young puppy who was clearly in a state of distress in a plastic transporter cage which had a blanket thrown over it.

Closer inspection revealed that the pup was sitting in a pool of its own liquid feces and could hardly stand up.
I was told by George that the dog had suspected Parvovirus but they were going to give him a few more days to recover.
When I went back the next day he was gone.

Now....I have some questions.
The staff there told me that the person in charge of the veterinary upkeep of these animals is Elka from the clinic in Qurum Heights.
I have also heard her name mentioned at the other pet shop next to Markaz Al Bahja.

Over the past years, I have accompanied friends to this woman's vet clinic and have been very impressed by her attitude and skill - but if she gets to read this, can she tell us what steps she has taken to try and prevent the daily suffering of all of these animals?

Surely as a veterinary professional, she and other vets have a duty of care when animals like this show up REGULARLY in a clinic.

And what is the local municipality or whoever doing to prevent this?

The general public carry more whack than most people realize when it comes to getting stuff like this actioned.
Would the pet shop in question like to have a full page spread about them in one of the local rags? Or a general information release to advise people of the problem?

Knowledge is power. The more people who know about this issue, the more chance there is of seeing it being changed.

I am so far from being a tree-hugger, however the mindless and callous treatment of any living creature just to make money is unacceptable - and they have no voice of their own.

It is for that reason that I am asking you all to get on your blogging, Twitter and email bikes and spread the word.


UPDATE:
In response to some of your comments, I am in no way insinuating that Elke or her team are involved in any kind of under-handed dealings in relation to the above pet shop, I find her to be a vet of the utmost integrity and has only the welfare of her patients at heart.

George at Creatures and also the Filipino guy in Markaz told me that Elke provides all of the vaccinations and healthcare for these animals. I do not know if this is true or not - I am just relaying what I have been told.

What I am asking is, if the above is true, then what reports have been issued, or actions taken by vets when confronted with an animal from this pet shop?

Is it just ignored because "that's just the way it is around here"?
Is there any way that these animals can be impounded and cared for?
Does Oman have an anti-cruelty law for animals, and if not then why not?

I know the lady down in the marina is very active in animal sheltering but at the same time I am aware that space to shelter them is finite.

I think it is time for some ballsy investigative journalist to have a deeper look into the activities of Creatures Pet Shop - or maybe the owners would care to comment and show Muscat that they really are above board and this has all been a terrible misunderstanding.

JD

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Driving A Lexus...


I have been meaning to blog about this for a while, but never seemed to find the right moment.
This phenomenon may be exclusive to the GCC or it may be a global thing, however, here is my question.

When you buy a new or a used Lexus...does it come with a free course in "How To Be A Dickhead"? ... or is that an extra you have to pay for?

Seriously - for the past twelve months, every single moron who has done what can only be described as something jaw-droppingly dangerous and selfish has been, you've guessed it, at the wheel of a Lexus.

Check your right-hand mirror in a queue and who is blasting up the yellow line on the inside.....yep - the Lexus driver.

Who's that braking hard in the fast lane and then blocking three lines of traffic to go off at the Bowsher roundabout? You again!

Flash flash flash, "Out of my way I am in a Lexus!" - and then Jet Driver shows you what a V12 looks like as it disappears away from you.
That really does hurt, doesn't it?


I am assuming that this is some sort of "Lexus driver delusion of grandeur" with a touch of, "let me through for I am superior in my Lexus."

Well....guess what? You're not!
You're just a dickhead in a re-branded Toyota.
A heap of Japanese shite.
Plastic walnut finishings and 12 speaker Pioneer stereo system.
Crap. Cheap, middle-class delusional crap!

And by the way - at the traffic lights, stop looking over at me and nodding your head in approval at my German automotive masterpiece - you will not be getting a positive response from me, for you are sitting in a Lexus - and you're a wannabe.

Now. Go away and play with your other deluded Lexus friends, or your young apprentices.....the Maxima drivers.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

40th Anniversary Greed

I was having a look at the Oman Forum earlier today and found one of the tons of rumours going around about what His Majesty is going to do during his 40th year of leadership.

Yes, almost forty years ago, His Majesty came to the throne and began to provide great things and a proper, stable future for the people of Oman.

That is what Omanis should be celebrating - His Majesty - and the incredible insight and vision he has, and how much has been gained by Omanis from that.

Not "What is HM going to give me for the 40th?" "I've heard a rumour that I am getting this....or that."

I've seen this so much since I got here: "Me, me, me!"
Driving, shopping, consuming, queuing and of course, handouts!

Sit back and have a long look at what HM has given you over the past forty years.
Security. Safety. Improved infrastructure. Healthcare to rival anything in the modern world. The opportunity to create personal wealth.

It sickens me that most of you still have this "cap in hand" - "the government should pay" mentality.

It is time for the handouts to stop! Some of you just do not deserve them!
Look at the subsidized electricity and water that you have.
Nobody says, "Thank you, I appreciate it and will endeavor to be conservative with its usage."

On the contrary - again we have the "we are entitled to it" attitude.

Lights all over the outside of villas, all lights on inside the house, spraying the garden with water to have plants that are not even indigenous to Oman....all paid for mostly by HM.

And look at how you squander it! The resources are already now at a low, thanks to your excesses and lack of forethought.

Get this....
HM owes you nothing. Nada! - and I have been told that he hates rumour-mongering, so if you really value the possibility that he may generously pay off loans for the over 50's, then you might want to stop rumouring it.

Also, I wonder how many Omanis under 50 will be transferring loans into the names of older relatives in the hopes of making a fast buck? Loads of you!

Grow up! - and stop being so disgustingly greedy!