Muscat: Litterbugs can expect an OMR1,000 fine for throwing trash in the street, the local authority has announced.
Muscat Municipality has also warned that the fine will be doubled for repeat offenders - and that the new rule applies to everyone.
Currently, the fine is OMR200 for the first or second violation and OMR500 for repeat offenders.
The decision was issued on March 16, 2017, and will come into effect 30 days after the announcement, on April 15.
In the new rules, the municipality has listed the types of violations and fines for establishments and individuals.
The new rule states that people who are caught throwing litter in “open areas” and wadis will be fined OMR1,000 and given 24 hours to clean it up.
A Muscat Municipality spokesman told Times of Oman that the authority has determined which fines are applicable to whom.
“There are fines for individuals and for establishments. The fines are categorised internally,” the spokesman said.
Those who violate the law will have one day to remove the trash to designated areas. The spokesman added that the fines would be levied against individuals who are caught - not on the businesses.
Sara Ehsan, a resident in Oman, said that she thinks that the penalty is harsh but fair.
“I see a lot of people carelessly throwing tissues, cans of soft drinks and other things on the streets. It will make those litterers think twice before throwing trash anywhere but the trash can,” she added.
However, an Omani national, Hassan Ali said that the fine is unjustified and should focus on natural reserves and beaches.
“I think the amount is unjustified. Yes, littering is an extremely bad habit and litterbugs must be punished, but this is just too much,” said Ali.
“I only support this fine being implemented in natural reserves and beaches, however, visitors must be informed about the fine before it is being put into effect,” he added.
Last year the Royal Oman Police issued an amendment to the traffic law where article 49 repeated states that littering will land the violator up to 10 days in prison or up to OMR300 fine.
Faisal Al Zadjali, an Omani national, said: “The municipality’s decision will hurt your wallet. Littering is a major problem on the beaches and other locations, so the smart thing to do is to stop littering unless you want to either go to jail or pay a hefty fine.”
Muneer Thazhe Purayil, an English teacher at Tabarak Private School, who often takes students from the school to clean beaches in Muscat, said that the municipality’s decision to impose hefty fines is needed.
“Ordinary citizens, when working together, choose to make a huge impact on the environment in either a positive or negative way. Things that hurt the environment include littering, failing to recycle and destroying the fauna that grows in a particular area,” the teacher who focuses on green initiatives with his students, said.
“It is important to focus on this as we have to make sure that the environment is preserved for future generations. However, people fail to keep their surroundings clean. So, such hefty fines will help,” the teacher said.
He has organised several Go Green Campaigns regularly in the school with Omani girl students studying at Class XI and XII for the last few years.
“We think it is a positive step from Muscat municipality as these kind of regulations need to be enforced by authorities to be taken seriously by public,” said Yusra M. Jaffer, Public Relations Manager at ESO.
“Our advice is for the public to enjoy Oman’s natural environment and leave nothing but footprints behind. If you can’t find a rubbish bin, then you should hold on to your waste until you find an appropriate place to dispose of it. Each individual must do their bit to protect these areas.” “Although an OMR1,000 fine seems like a big amount, it’s nothing compared to the cost of damage to the environment caused by littering.”