Sudan authorities arrest nine activists protesting ‘draconian’ water fee increase
EL BORGEIG, NORTHERN STATE –
Authorities arrested at least nine resistance committee members during a demonstration held on Wednesday, against the price hike in water tariffs in El Borgeig in Sudan’s Northern State. Complaints were also filed against four members of the committee, due to their continued participation in the protests that that went on for three days.
In a statement by the El Borgeig resistance committee, the group of activists indicated that their demands to cancel the increases in the drinking water tariff were “completely fair”, due to the “water networks in villages and local areas being established by popular effort, not a public water network”.
The tariff increase protests in El Borgeig were made up of 53 villages, all who rallied against the ‘draconian’ charge which sought to increase water fees tenfold.
Protesters threatened to escalate and close the Sudan-Egypt highway, Sheryan El Shimal (artery of the north), if their demands were not met by today.
The highway is a key area for protesting activity in the Northern Sate. Farmers from Dongola and Ed Debba barricaded the road two years ago, in protest of the 500 per cent increase in electricity fees.
Mohamed Saleh, one of the participants in the protest, told Radio Dabanga that the local authorities have “increased water fees per house from SDG 100 SDG to SDG 1,000 a month since the beginning of February without any prior warning”.
He explained that the water networks were “established by their own self-effort”, and have been running at the expense of locals for two years. Saleh stated that the authorities also have not provided any services in exchange for the exorbitant fee increase.
According to Saleh, protesters gathered three days ago and closed the road linking Arqo and El Borgeig at the El Dafoufa bridge, in rejection of the decision.
The Ministry of Finance and the Water Corporation of Northern State reportedly issued a decision to reduce the tariff to SDG 800 SDG after the protests, but locals rejected the decision and “demanded that the increase be cancelled completely”.