Up until now only temporary measures have been taken to try and prevent leakage in the berm, says Alaa Hashim al-Badran, head of the union of agricultural engineers in Basra. “There’s been a shortage of fuel for the machines working on the soil bund, although the machines have saved us for the past three years. But the problem is still there and the Iranians have taken no action whatsoever to reduce the size of the problem,” he adds.
The Iraqi government has not helped, al-Badran says. Because it’s an international border, the ministry of foreign affairs is supposed to do all the communicating with the Iranians. “But they have known about the problem for six years and nothing has been done,” al-Badran complains. “We do not feel that the federal government is cooperating with us to address this serious issue.”
The solution, al-Badran says, is to build a more solid berm.
On November 5 last year the Basra provincial council formed an emergency committee to deal with the ongoing erosion of the barrier.
Murtada al-Shamani, the head of the council’s border crossings committee, was cautiously optimistic. “If work continues without any interruptions or problems, maintenance could be completed in less than two months,” he says.
His staff had already been able to repair about a kilometre’s worth of damaged berm, Faisal Abdul-Qader of the water department, added.
Almost everyone was critical of the Iranians. The Iranians had actually agreed to build a canal to drain the body of water into the sea, Jawad al-Imarah, a member of the provincial council, told NIQASH. “But up until today they have done nothing about this.”