July 1, 2005 in Nation/World

Baghdad mayor demands money for capital

Patrick Quinn Associated Press
 

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Baghdad’s mayor decried the capital’s crumbling infrastructure and its inability to supply enough clean water to residents, threatening Thursday to resign if the government won’t provide more money.

The statement from Mayor Alaa Mahmoud al-Timimi was an indication of the daily misery that Baghdad’s 6.45 million people still endure more than two years after the U.S.-led invasion. They are wracked not only by unrelenting bombings and kidnappings, but by serious shortages in water, electricity and fuel.

“It’s useless for any official to stay in office without the means to accomplish his job,” al-Timimi told reporters.

Al-Timimi is seeking $1.5 billion for Baghdad in 2005 but so far has received only $85 million, said his spokesman, Ameer Ali Hasson.

Efforts to expand Baghdad’s water projects were set back earlier this month when insurgents sabotaged a pipeline near Baghdad. Now, some complain the water they do get smells bad, and Hasson acknowledged in some areas, the water gets mixed with sewage.

“The problem is escalating,” said al-Timimi, a Shiite who took office in May 2004.

The pipeline has been repaired and water levels are expected to return to normal in the coming days, the mayor told reporters. But that won’t help with shortages that existed before the sabotage, he said.

According to City Hall, Baghdad produces about 544 million gallons of water per day, some 370 million gallons short of its required amount. Some 55 percent of the water is lost through leakage in the pipes.

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