Amman shoppers turn out in force to support flood-hit merchants

Residents in Jordan's capital hit the stores to back owners who suffered major losses after heavy rains led to floods.

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    Amman shoppers turn out in force to support flood-hit merchants
    The streets of downtown market were filled with customers [Abeer Ayyoub/Al Jazeera]

    Jordan, Amman - Thousands of shoppers have descended on central Amman in a show of support for business owners whose stores were badly affected by heavy rains last week.

    The spending spree on Friday was in response to a social media campaign launched by activists after flooding hit the Jordanian capital's Downtown market on February 27 and 28.

    "You can see how crowded the markets are, it's not like this every Friday," Mohammad Gabartawi, one of the founders of the #OffToDownTown campaign, told Al Jazeera.

    "The sunny weather also motivated more people to join," the 30-year-old added.

    Gabartawi said he and his colleagues created a Facebook event to help the flood-hit merchants after videos showing the widespread damage began circulating online.

    "What happened is very sad; we are trying to do what we can to support these poor people," said Warda Saudi, one of the shoppers at Amman's largest market.

    Tal'at Abbas, the owner of a shop selling blankets, said he had lost more than 10,000 Jordanian dinars ($14,000) in the flooding, the first to hit his shop of 30 years.

    "I got rid of damaged blankets, now I'm selling defected blankets for half the price; this is a huge loss," the 50-year-old told Al Jazeera, in-between price negotiations with a customer.

    "I hold the Amman municipality responsible for my loss; the infrastructure is poor, and the drainage network is bad that could not take this amount of rain."

    Tal'at Abbas: 'I hold the Amman municipality responsible for my loss' [Abeer Ayyoub/Al Jazeera] 

    In recent days, many others have also taken to social media to criticise Amman's local authorities for being unprepared for the severity of the bad weather.

    In response, the municipality formed a committee to determine responsibility and vowed to take the result of its investigation "seriously". It also announced a two-year exemption from registration license and waster fees for merchants - a move, however, that was described as inadequate by those affected.

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    Mohammad Haimour, one of the customers to hit the stores on Friday, said it was up to citizens to help each other at times of need.

    "We know that the government will not help these people, this is why it's our job to stand for each other, and to support each other," said the 30-year-old, who bought clothes for his children.

    At a store not far away, Yehya Abu Zuhdi, the owner of a cosmetics shop, said it was unlikely that the authorities would help him with his losses.

    "The government is not taking us seriously; I lost my money and no one really cares about this," said Abu Zuhdi. 

    Jordan's Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz visited the market a week ago, talking to shop owners and listening to their complaints. Al-Razzaz acknowledged that the situation was "painful" and vowed that the government would examine the matter thoroughly and act accordingly.

    Last week's flooding was the latest in a number of bad-weather incidents to hit Jordan in recent months. In November, more than 20 people, mostly children, were killed when flash floods swept a school bus near the Dead Sea.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News