The water tanker coverup business, predominantly run by Pakistani expats in the Western Province, is in turmoil since the crackdown on illegals began on Nov. 4.
Several thousands of expats involved in coverup businesses under the names of Saudis for decades are coming under scrutiny following the launch of the labor campaign against visa violators.
Though tankers are officially owned by Saudis and delivered by expats not under the sponsorship of the owners, tanker drivers often end up investing in and running the business by paying fixed amounts to the owners.
In addition, most drivers do not wish to be sponsored by the owners to avoid problems with exiting the Kingdom in case of dispute.
Over 2,500 water tankers operate in Jeddah’s water plant alone.
Of these, less than 100 tankers are owned by the drivers’ sponsors.
Speaking to Arab News, a driver said: “We are indeed in turmoil. We have invested a lot in this industry and we need some time to rectify the situation.”
Engineer Abdullah Al-Assaf, director general of business unit, at the NWC, however, denied prevalence of a large-scale problem. He said only 250 drivers are under the process of sponsorship change.
Water supplies to residents in Jeddah have been disrupted since tanker drivers are staying home fearing arrest. This has paved the way for a water tanker “black market,” with prices doubling in Jeddah.
Tankers that would typically be delivered within an hour prior to the crackdown are now being delivered beyond the 24-hour mark.
Many residents are physically taking their tankers to be filled on Makrona Street after losing hope of having water delivered.
A source at the National Water Company told local media that over 1,500 water trucks are parked due to lack of drivers. The source said water distribution centers provide water to clients who come to its locations. Other companies and firms are facing the same problem as a result of the correction campaign.