Saturday, October 18, 2008

Services, or Lack Of….

Omantel (Telephone)
Well it has been an interesting week for Oman’s bloggers, as Omantel somehow managed to block our ability to login (within Oman). Normally you would hear conspiracy theories about censorship and freedom of speech. However, it appears to be the general consensus of opinion that Omantel are too incompetent to have done it deliberately. Moreover, it is more likely that they hadn’t notice they had blocked the login and, even more likely that they haven’t noticed it is now unblocked!!!
For all our gripes about how useless they are, occasionally they surprise you. A couple of weeks ago we were left with internet but no land line, if I had thought about it a little more, I would have realized that it was a broken connection within the house but, since Omantel have such a sterling record I chose to jump to the conclusion that they had mucked it up. I called (on my mobile) to log a fault, the following day an engineer was dispatched and he quickly diagnosed and repaired the fault, AT NO COST TO ME. Show me a BT engineering call out where the bill payer wasn’t charged!!!!
However, true to form, the engineer’s repair broke within a couple of days but, at least this time I didn’t jump to any conclusion and carried out the repair myself the way it should be done (PROPERLY).

So sometime, during the not so long ago past, the engineer’s carrying out maintenance on our local desalination plant managed to break it (quite badly I believe). Maybe I am being a tad harsh as the official line was that the breakdown coincided with maintenance work, who knows? So a lot of Muscat has suffered from a shortage of water with varying degrees of severity.
Planned maintenance/repairs were announced in the press and our local area was scheduled for Sunday. So I was somewhat taken aback when Becky called on Monday lunch time to tell me we had no water. I made a few ‘helpful’ suggestions and recommended flagging down a water truck and getting them to refill our tank, which then resulted in a heated exchange of words.
So off I went to track down some ‘intelligence’ on the repairs, which consisted of continuous and repetitive calls to the water authority until such time as they had had enough and picked up the phone. “Tuesday 10am” was the swift response which was duly conveyed to my lovely and now somewhat calmed wife. It would appear that the announcement of a lack of water was from our maid Jenny, who had heard it on the grapevine and not the case that our pipes had run dry. As such, by the time I had got home from work we still had half a tank of water and the mains water was back on.
Others were not so lucky, for instance our friend in Al Azaiber were without water for three days and to add insult to injury, charged fifty Omani Rials (75 Pounds Sterling) for one water truck, some ten times what it should have cost!!
This extortion and profiteering by some (and I stress some) of Muscat’s water tanker drivers is nothing new. During Gonu we had a similar situation but a well placed photo of the driver’s license plate and, the promise of a call to the Royal Omani Police sent him scurrying back under the rock he had crawled from.

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