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New homes hope.

Bahrain: A TOTAL of 200 new homes could soon be built on 150 empty government plots of land in Hamad Town - more than three decades after plans for major projects were announced but never implemented.

The Northern Municipal Council has now given the Housing Ministry the go-ahead to reclaim the land rather than wait for the Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry to carry out projects including public parks, walkways, gardens and mini-markets.

The empty plots of land have been turned into dumping grounds for building refuse and garbage bags besides being occupied by youths who have turned it into their own private majlis, according to council chairman Mohammed BuHamood.

He has warned the government that further delays in transferring the property to the Housing Ministry could lead to an uproar considering that the number of families being forced to live in crammed conditions are increasing.

"The 150 plots are the original property of the Housing Ministry, but are registered as services for government homes under the Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry," said Mr BuHamood.

"Since Hamad Town was opened in 1984 as the second major new housing project in the history of Bahrain, those plots were intended for public parks, walkways, gardens and mini-markets," he said.

"Repeated demands were made by the residents and public representatives to provide municipal and commercial services in Hamad Town rather than make people drive somewhere else.

"This never happened. Some projects for the benefit of the people have been carried out but not many."

The plots would be of great benefit if returned to the Housing Ministry to build homes on, he said.

"According to an estimate provided by Housing Ministry officials, 200 homes could be built if big homes designs are selected, while it could be more if other designs are chosen.

"Some people may say that our decision would lead to more problems rather than solve any since those who are going to live there will be demanding services and there will be no place to offer them.

"Services come second to people getting homes and I acknowledge that services are necessary for those currently living there, but what we have currently is acceptable - not enough, but just fine."

He said that without allowing the Housing Ministry to take over the plots, violations will continue.

"The plots have turned into dumping grounds for building refuse and garbage, while some youths have occupied it and turned it into a majlis where they socialise until the early hours of the morning," said Mr BuHamood.

"Now that the plots of land are of no proper use, returning them to the Housing Ministry will benefit 200 families.

"The ministry has the budget and wants to build 40,000 homes over the next few years."

Housing Ministry assistant under-secretary for housing projects Sami Buhazza welcomed the move, but hoped the other ministry would agree to it.

"We want to get our hands on more plots of land so we can speed up housing projects and yes the 150 plots are originally located within our property, Hamad Town, but they are specified for other services that come under another ministry," he said.

"It they agree we will start work on homes within a year. We have the resources and we are ready to start work anytime and anywhere.

"We reached an agreement on plots of land in A'ali that would have seen 59 homes built. They refused at first but agreed to have 49, and then when we started transfer procedures they backed out. We don't want to see the same happen here and we have a time-line that we follow in providing homes to the people."

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Jul 9, 2016
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