Bahrain lifts coastal projects ban
Manama, July 8, 2012
A five-year development ban on the coasts of Sitra in Bahrain has been lifted to pave way for major infrastructure and housing projects, said a top official.
However, councillors have prohibited building on the island's sea fronts stretching up to 1km into the water to preserve its coastline and prevent reclamation.
The Central Municipal Council had initially renewed the ban, which was imposed in June 2007, for another six months, but scrapped its decision after studies showed it was stalling the area's development.
It comes following a request from Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi, who received several complaints from the housing and works ministries and the National Oil and Gas Authority, saying key services in Sitra were being delayed due to the ban.
"When we imposed the ban in June 2007, we had one thing in mind and that's protecting the coast from turning into private developments that residents wouldn't benefit from," said council chairman Abdulrazzak Al Hattab.
"The original circular map drawn was too extreme as it banned development up to 1km inland from the coast and up to 3km in water, which is fine because it ensured that no one could block the coast or reclaim the sea, but that was then and things have to change.
"It is true that last month we insisted the ban should continue for an additional six months and that's for one reason - because no other alternative was given to us.
"We then told Dr Al Ka'abi to give us something that could change our minds and within a month, he managed to present new plans to the council."
However, he said this did not mean private development would be allowed on the coast.
"We are currently working on family recreational projects on the coast that would keep them clear of any private projects, but of course highly awaited government projects would go ahead," he said.
"They will consist of government housing projects and all necessary infrastructure from roads to sewage in addition to electricity networks and other services, including coastal public facilities, which we are currently drawing up.
"It was a mistake from the beginning (to impose the ban) because government projects were never meant to be delayed, especially since the ban stated that such projects would not be affected.
"But Dr Al Ka'abi stressed that making exceptions would create more problems. Now things seem to be more clear as we know who will be doing what, especially the ministries that will carry out infrastructure work on Sitra's coasts." – TradeArabia News Service