Sand dredging companies to be monitored via GPS
Manama, February 23, 2011
Companies extracting sand from Bahrain's seas will now be monitored through a Global Positioning System (GPS) to avoid theft and other violations, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi said.
He said all dredging companies would be obliged to have GPS on their boats as they extracted sand to ensure they did not stray out of the approved zone - destroying marine life in the process.
The amount of time they spend dredging will also be monitored to ensure they stick within agreed limits.
Dr Al Ka'abi added tough regulations on sand extraction had already been imposed by the ministry in co-operation with Customs Affairs, to ensure sand wasn't shipped elsewhere.
'These new systems that we are going to adopt very soon will protect our sand from being exploited,' said Dr Al Ka'abi.
'GPS and Customs monitoring are just part of many systems that we will take to safeguard sand.'
The minister was earlier at parliament where he was asked about reclamation, dredging and sand extraction by Al Menbar Bloc president MP Dr Ali Ahmed.
'Reclamation and dredging are being monitored carefully by inspectors from the Fisheries and Environment Directorates in the presence of the Coastguard to ensure there are no violations in the given location or that fisheries are being harmed,' said Dr Al Ka'abi.
'Whenever those behind any reclamation or dredging project commit a violation in which serious damage happens, they are being immediately ordered to restore the place to normal, as well as surrounding areas.
'To clarify the situation, no licence for such purposes is issued without the area's soil and water being tested by our consultants to ensure that reclamation and dredging work can be done there.'
Dr Al Ka'abi said that the Cabinet had already issued a decision for reclamation to stop between Al Sayeh (Busaiteen) and the Northern Town.
'No reclamation is being carried out now except on one or two projects and this decision is to allow us to access the reclamation situation in line with the master plan 2030, which is posted on our website and is clear to everyone,' he said.
'I want anyone in parliament or anywhere in the country to come forward and say that any project has been reclaimed contrary to the plan - because they are not.
'We work on the protection of coastal areas and seas and have in several cases stopped developers from going ahead with reclamation plans because they didn't fulfil requirements or were not included in Bahrain's future zoning plans.'
However, Dr Ahmed claimed that was not always the case.
'There are many projects that don't follow zoning requirements and yet are being given licenses for reclamation and dredging,' he claimed.
'Work is going on in areas where the minister says it is banned and no one is stopping it.'
He said the biggest question was how such areas of the sea had been transferred from public to private property.
'We will accept they have been sold out by the government, but the question is where did their money go?' he asked.
Dr Ahmed also described Bahrain's land reclamation policies as harmful.
'Destroying the sea is not acceptable full stop and saying that consultants check the quality of water and sand before any licence is given out is laughable,' he said.-TradeArabia News Service