KT for good: Up to Dh100,000 fine for littering in UAE
If you throw a plastic bottle or an empty candy wrapper on a street in Dubai, you'd have to pay a Dh500 fine.
Is penalising litterbugs with fines enough to make them quit such a bad habit? Environmentalists have said mandatory community service, a hike in fines, and stricter law enforcement will help - at least - in significantly reducing the amount of litter across the country.
If you throw a plastic bottle or an empty candy wrapper on a street in Dubai, for example, you'd have to pay a Dh500 fine. Though, that's only if you get caught. And with 400,000 cigarette butts being picked up from a Dubai beach in 2017, litterbugs are clearly getting away with it.
One environmentalist, Gina Fernandes, nearly paid the price with her life because of an irresponsible smoker who threw a cigarette butt into a balcony of her building, causing a fire to erupt.
Now, Fernandes is insisting that cops patrol communities to catch litterbugs on the spot; warning signs in each balcony be put up; and mandatory community service be used as a penalty.
"There have been two fires in our building so far. Fines have been put in place by the Dubai Municipality, but buildings are not putting up the signs for it. All signs should be up in play areas and balconies. I don't think the awareness is there. After the fire in our balcony, they installed fire extinguishers," she said.
"I think the fines should be increased - Dh2,000 is appropriate. If they charge that much for road accidents, they should implement the same for littering because this is also a big accident. We've experienced several building fires already, so we know how much it affects us, especially when we have to evacuate the building at 4am in the morning with our children."
Fernandes works as an art director in the UAE and she has been spearheading an eco-friendly campaign for her company's corporate social responsibility programme.
"I've been educating children for a few years now. I started a group called Spectacular 8, where we do beach clean-ups and educational awareness. Our campaigns on cigarette butt collection have gone global," she said.
Another resident who is passionate about the environment, Priscilla Van Andel, strongly believes that stricter law enforcement will help stop litterbugs.
Andel runs a group called 'Project Clean Environment' along with another resident, Malini Nair. They organise clean-ups in partnership with authorities.
"There must be rangers going around and checking areas, and when they see someone littering, they should have the option to report them to authorities. Violators should also be ordered to clean up a whole area so they never do it again," she said.
"We know quite a lot of places in the UAE, in the deserts and mountains, and you never see security people. Signs have been put up, indicating fine warnings, but who's going to be checking this? I told Sharjah authorities that I'd be willing to do this for free. The government can have a campaign for a month where staff members will go to places where people gather for a picnic. They can check on these people and make it mandatory for the litterbugs to clean up 100sqm, for example. This can teach them a lesson," Andel said.
Fines in Dubai
>Dh500 for throwing cigarette butts on the ground
>Dh500 for throwing gum in a public place
>Dh500 for throwing waste on roads from a vehicle
>Dh1,000 for littering on a beach
>Dh1,000 for spitting in public places
>Dh1,000 for throwing a cigarette butt from a vehicle
>Dh200 for littering or spitting in the Dubai Metro
>Dh10,000 for bringing in general waste from outside of the emirate to be dumped in a Dubai landfill
>Dh50,000 for disposing of hazardous waste at undesignated sites
Fines in Sharjah and other emirates
>Dh500 for littering in public places in Sharjah
>Dh500 for littering on Sharjah beaches
>Dh500 for spitting and throwing chewing gum in Sharjah
>Dh2,000 for littering in Sharjah deserts
>Dh500 for throwing waste from a vehicle in Ras Al Khaimah
>Dh1,000 for littering from your vehicle in Abu Dhabi
>Dh1,000 to Dh100,000 for dumping waste in residential or public areas in Al Ain
>Dh10,000 for littering in Ajman beaches and corniches
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