JEDDAH: A Saudi businessman told the panel probing into the Jeddah flooding disaster that his company had received full payment for a project to overhaul part of the city’s sewerage system, but did not complete the job.
Sources told Arab News on Thursday the businessman had accused officials at the Ministry of Water of making it easier for the company to win the contract and ignored the fact it did not fulfill its commitments.
The sources added that the whistleblower admitted paying the officials part of the contract value.
In his testimony to the committee investigating the tragedy, the businessman said he took the initiative to expose the corruption because he wanted to clear his conscience.
He decided to contact Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who is the chairman of the committee, after being moved by guilt following the floods that killed at least 122 people.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah had ordered the establishment of the investigation committee after the disaster.
Sources said Prince Khaled has ordered authorities in Jeddah to begin questioning the businessman to verify the information he provided in his report. Once all evidence has been collated, authorities will detain and charge his partners and the accused ministry officials.
According to earlier reports from the Ministry of Finance, the government had earmarked about SR6.6 billion for implementing an integrated sewerage network in Jeddah.
“This is by far the largest amount of money to be dedicated for sewage projects in any city, including Riyadh,” the ministry said at the time.
According to municipal sources, only about a third of sewage projects in Jeddah were executed.
The ministry had approved the budget for the scheme in 2005.
The project should have been completed within three years but National Water Company officials said the deadline had been extended to 2011.