JEDDAH: RIMA AL-MUKHTAR
Saturday 28 July 2012
Last Update 28 July 2012 8:48 am
The problem of illegally selling and buying fireworks usually escalates during the holy month Ramadan when families buy them to celebrate the beginning of Eid.
Downtown Jeddah is one of the major centers for dealers to illegally sell and market them while Jeddah police warns and advises people not to deal with those peddlers.
In the main square downtown Jeddah, groups of young men roam around offering people illegal firework.
To signal potential buyers, they make a sign and a signature with their hands that symbolizes fireworks and ask people to follow them to their merchandise.
“I have good quality fire crackers, good prices too,” said Hamza, a Yemeni peddler told the Arab News. “If you follow me I can take you to my secret place where I keep all my products, it’s a huge collection, you will be impressed.”
Arab News followed the young man to a small and narrow alley in downtown Jeddah.
“We cannot take any merchandise with us in public because it’s illegal to sell fireworks,” said Hamza. “The products we have are smuggled into the Kingdom from different countries that I cannot tell you about and how it got in, but these products are 100 percent Chinese,” he added.
Most fireworks peddlers sell their products in downtown Jeddah. “We chose this location because it’s the busiest place in Jeddah during Ramadan and people usually tend to buy fireworks in Ramadan to celebrate Eid by lighting them at their homes and neighborhoods,” said Hamza.
Prices of illegal fireworks defer from one peddler to another according to Hamza.
“Some men keep their products in the trunk of their car, and others carry them in their bags and walk around trying to sell them. Those are the ones who have expensive fireworks because they have little products and they want to make good money,” he said.
“My cousins and I, on the other hand, have a secret storage where we keep all our products. We have very good and cheap prices because the quantity is bigger.”
When asked about the storage where he keeps all his products Hamza said he could only show us a small quantity because he has to keep it a secret.
“We have to have a backup of fireworks just in case the police busts us, then we can leave the smaller amount and run knowing that there is another secret place with a bigger amount that we can sell later,” he said.
“It happens many times that we get caught in our storage area where the police take everything. Now we are being smarter and selling in different locations with different varieties and quantities,” he added.
When a police officer passed by the main Balad Square, all the young Yemeni peddlers ran in the opposite direction and disappeared in the crowds. “We have a plan that we usually follow, when you see police you run,” said Hamza. He noted that, “We run in different direction and everyone should go by himself to make it difficult for the police to catch any. It is very easy for us to run when there is a big crowd because we can pretend to be anyone and vanish.”
First Lt. Nawaf Al-Bouq, a spokesman for Jeddah police, warns residents not to deal with those peddlers.
“People must know it is illegal to buy or sell fireworks products because they are smuggled in the kingdom. Those are very dangerous and people should not use them at home or in the street,” he said. He added: “We have had our share of reported injuries because of the wrong usage of fireworks and we have arrested a huge number of dealers, but they keep appearing because people keep buying them. If people stopped they would also stop selling and smuggling it in.”
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