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Demolish vice den.

NEW demands have been made to tear down an abandoned apartment building following claims that schoolgirls who entered had to be rescued from alleged assailants by police.

An eyewitnesses told the GDN that police arrested three men who allegedly followed three schoolgirls into the Kuwaiti Building, in Gudaibiya, on Saturday.

The property, which is at the centre of a decade-long legal battle between its owners and the old Manama Municipality, has allegedly become a den of illegal activity since tenants were evicted amid safety concerns in November 2006.

Built in 1978 and once considered a prestigious address, the 11-storey commercial and residential complex was initially earmarked for demolition before its Kuwaiti owners successfully challenged the decision.

However, Capital Trustees Board chairman Mohammed Al Khozaee told the GDN that safety concerns remained - adding the empty building had become a magnet for delinquents and others engaged in "shameful activities".

"The board has been notified of various concerns about the shameful activities in the building, apart from its safety," he said.

"The building was evacuated due to concerns about safety and it is almost 10 years, but nobody seems to be bothered.

"There is a legal case ongoing with the owners suing for compensation, yet it seems the owners are not doing repair work as ordered.

"As we understand the Capital Trustees Authority inspectors randomly visit the place, but this is not a solution.

"We must immediately take steps to demolish the building."

The decision to demolish the building was overturned by the Cassation Court in 2008 and in 2014 the owners were given a month to submit an independent structural report.

Last year the High Administrative Court allowed maintenance, remodelling and repair work to proceed - and ordered the municipal authority in Manama to pay the owners' legal costs.

However, area MP Adel Al Asoomi told the GDN he was aware of the incident on Saturday and said it was time to tear down the property once and for all.

"I am aware of the incident and, moreover, many other such issues have been referred to me by people in the area," he told the GDN.

"It is not right to delay demolishing the building, as monitoring the place throughout the day is impossible by any authority.

"People have complained about the building being misused by people for various purposes - including drugs, alcohol and vice activities.

"A building with such anti-social activities going on doesn't project the right image of Bahrain to the world.

"I urge the courts to take drastic measures to put an end to this and demolish the building."

An eyewitness told the GDN that police were called to the Kuwaiti Building at around 7pm on Saturday by onlookers who saw three men follow schoolgirls into the property.

"The girls were seen going in, which is a regular affair," the Indian, who works nearby, told the GDN.

"Usually there will be boys, who I think were already inside.

"But three Indian men followed the girls inside and some Arabs at a sheesha cafe alerted the police.

"Four police patrol vans and criminal investigation officers were there when they brought the girls and the men out.

"The parents of the children were also called to the location, which was by that time crowded."

An employee at a nearby cold store said police had visited his shop only last month, asking to be alerted about any unusual activity in the Kuwaiti Building.

"CID officers came to the shop last month, told us they had received complaints about students and asked us to warn them so such issues could be avoided," he said.

"But these children are very bold and they ignore warnings when someone tries to communicate with them.

"Mostly it is school students who hang out for fun, but we are not sure what they are doing inside.

"There are many things inside this building - even cars that are rusting.

"It is easy for people to break the flimsy barrier that surrounds it to access the building."

The Interior Ministry did not immediately comment on Saturday's incident.

raji@gdn.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Oct 31, 2016
Words:695
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