Jeddah, Asharq-Al-Awsat- The Saudi Minister of Water and Electricity, Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman al Hussayn, announced earlier in the week that the water sector would be privatized in the next 5 or 7 years. Joint stock companies would manage the operation in major cities across the Kingdom and will be subject to public bidding at later date.
This latest statement came as al Hussayn signed a contract with a French company to carry out a general examination and evaluation of the water and sewage sector in the city of Jeddah, as a preparation for the privatization, which will be, arrange through agreements with private companies. This follows the signing of an earlier contract in Riyadh. The Minister indicated similar awards will be finalized in the coming months for Medina, Dammam, Khobar, and Dhahran followed by the rest of Saudi Arabia.
The Minister indicated these contracts are a step towards privatizing the entire water network after painstaking analysis of the conditions of the sector is carried out. This will involve studying the network’s performance and yearly rainfall figures. In addition, the study will check the billing system and calculate the number of non-payment cases and the speed of maintenance operations, the average response time to leak complaints and registration delays. These steps will help smooth the privatization process and allow the private sector and the citizens of Saudi Arabia to have a say in managing the sector and ensure the demand for water is met.