Suq clean-up drive launched.
A DRIVE to clean up the Old Manama Suq was launched yesterday after the area was branded dangerous and a fire hazard.
The campaign, spearheaded by the Capital Trustees Board, is aimed at tidying up Manama's historic trading heartland amid fears that the current set-up is unsafe.
It follows board chairman Mohammed Al Khozaee's comments last month that the numerous displays of clothing outside traders' shops in the suq poses a serious health and safety risk that must be tackled
With this in mind, a joint committee has now been formed featuring representatives from the Capital Governorate, the General Directorate for Civil Defence and the Capital Trustees Authority to come up with solutions.
"The current situation in the suq is alarming because shopkeepers there are using narrow alleys and roads to showcase their merchandise," said Mr Al Khozaae.
"It is blocking access for emergency vehicles and makes the place looks unorganised.
"I am certain it will lead to a catastrophe either through massive loss of life or merchandise in the case of fire, which is imminent."
Following a tour of the suq yesterday, suggestions put forward included obliging all shops to have fire extinguishers and limiting the extent to which merchandise can be displayed on the street, according to Mr Al Khozaae.
"Warnings will be posted across the suq with violators being referred to the Public Prosecution," he said.
"This is all part of what we have agreed for now, but there will be other technical requirements that businessmen will have to accept."
Mr Al Khozaae was accompanied on the site visit yesterday by Capital Governor Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, Capital Trustees Authority director-general Shaikh Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, board members and authority
officials, besides senior officials from the Interior
"The General Directorate for Civil Defence has told us that they face great difficulties dealing with fires in the suq and that it takes them a lot of time to reach their destination, which is saddening, considering that every minute counts," said Mr Al Khozaae.
"That is why we carried out this site visit and decided to form a committee featuring all concerned parties, as we look for real solutions that will
ensure people's safety and make the place more
"It is true that the market is old but there needs to be basic standards (of health and safety).
"We are looking for urgent solutions and hopefully before July these will be implemented -- some of these decisions will be tough, but losing customers' lives would be much tougher."
Traders and businessmen in the suq will now have to be consulted, the official added.
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