Bahrain bungles housing project
Bahrain is unlikely to meet its five-year deadline to clear its waiting list for government homes, said a senior government official.
The unrealistic expectation of his predecessor to build 50,000 homes across the country could not be achieved in the time frame, Housing Minister Bassem Al Hamer was quoted as saying in our sister publication the Gulf Daily News (GDN).
However, he said the ministry was on the right track with tens of thousands of units being built as part of projects in the Northern Town, Hidd and Sitra.
He was speaking yesterday on the sidelines of the Southern Governorate Reality and Expectation Exhibition at Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa.
Deputy Premier Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa opened the exhibition, in the presence of Interior Minister Lieutenant General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, ministers and officials.
Present was Southern Governor Shaikh Abdulla bin Rashid Al Khalifa.
"We are aware that there is a long waiting list for housing and we are working on it," said Mr Al Hamer. "The five-year plan has already been initiated and has been approved by the Cabinet. In fact we are currently hitting a record number of housing projects."
There are currently more than 50,000 families on the waiting list, and MPs on Tuesday came up with a 12-point housing plan to speed up the handover of public housing and improve the system for calculating low-interest housing loans.
The GDN reported in 2011 that former housing minister Dr Majeed Al Alawi pledged to reduce the waiting list time for government homes from up to 18 years to a maximum of just five years.
The original plan was to build an additional 50,000 homes costing approximately BD2 billion ($5.27 billion).
However, Al Hamer said BD300 million has been allocated for housing projects this year alone from government coffers and the $10bn Gulf Fund.
"The project in the Northern Town is expected to take six to seven years to complete and will have 70,000 new homes built," he added.
"We are also building 25,000 to 30,000 homes in Hidd and 6,000 homes in East Sitra. I do think it will take longer than the five years, but we are on the right track."
Shaikh Abdulla said efforts were underway to mediate and facilitate communication between ministries to fast-track projects in the governorate.
He stressed the need for infrastructure development in the governorate to accommodate the growing number of residents.
"We are facing an increasing population caused by a rise in the number of births and people shifting to the south from other areas," he said. "This means that we need to develop infrastructure and roads.”
Shaikh Abdulla said plans were in the pipeline to redesign the roads network to separate commercial and residential developments.
"The number one priority on the list is to change some roads as we have housing and commercials project being built so close together," he said.
"We want to design roads that will separate the sectors and make things run more smoothly." He also said they were looking into solving overcrowded labour accommodations in the governorate.