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Who would want to steal a water meter?
Bowing to the inevitable, we called SEWA (the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority to you) to report the incident. This always means a ring round every possible phone number for them, none of which are answered until, finally, many attempts later, someone picks up the line and grunts that time honoured greeting 'Ugh' at us and almost immediately tells us to call the Halwan office, which makes it a point of pride never to answer its phone.
Down to Halwan, pick up an engineer (they never have their own transport, for some reason) and show him that yes, the meter is not there. He doesn't know why. Back to Halwan. It's been taken for checking. Apparently we're using too little water compared to everyone else on our street and so it must be a faulty meter. Of course, we aren't bathing a family of ten, watering our extensive garden, having our Indonesian maid wash six cars every morning and constantly feeding a pair of top loading twin-tubs. But oh, no. We aren't to be commended for heeding the message of the many water conservation campaigns Sharjah has launched (often starring that jolly little anthropomorphous water drop 'Mooj'). We are to be checked out as suspicious under-consumers.
In the meantime, we are told that Sharjah has decided to fine people who use unlicensed car washers. The fine of Dhs 250 will apply if you employ any unlicenced individual to wash your car. Licensed individuals are to be allowed to ply their trade in shopping mall car parks, service stations and car cleaning workshops. Gulf News also reports residents will also be fined Dhs500 for making puddles on the street as if that's a new thing, but that's been the case in Sharjah for many, many years.
Sadly, this move is just going to drive car washing underground and likely organised international crime syndicates will step in. Illegal car washers have already learned not to leave the wipers up as a signal the car has been washed, Gulf News tells us. Oh, the criminality of it all...