SIDON, Lebanon: Around 300 people occupied the Sidon Water Authority building Thursday in protest of water shortages.
Several men and women entered the building forcefully and proceeded to the hallways and offices while others gathered in the inner courtyard. The protesters accused Sidon Water Authority General Manager Ahmad Nizam of theft and purposely cutting off water from the city and surrounding villages.
Protesters said that Nizam gave orders to halt the water pumping engines to save fuel due to a shortage. They also said that Sidon is one of the few cities in Lebanon in which most residents actually pay the annual state fee for water, and demanded that they receive what they have paid for.
Internal Security Forces, who quickly arrived at the scene, failed to prevent the protesters from entering the building but remained on the premises.
Azza Hijazi, a spokesperson for the protesters, said that although the water tanks are full, many residents of Sidon are getting water for only one hour per day.
"Why such negligence toward the people? Enough injustice. Let there be water for everyone," Hijazi told The Daily Star.
Ahmad Wehbi, a Sidon resident, said that he is sometimes forced to bathe in the river rather than at home even though he pays the annual fee for water.
One woman bathed her young son in the courtyard with a water hose used to water plants on the premises.
Protesters spoke to Nizam and warned him not to leave his office. He vowed to look into their demands.