Bahrain announces $166m new projects
Manama, May 10, 2013
Public projects worth BD63 million ($166 million) will be carried out across the kingdom between now and the end of next year, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi revealed.
The new projects were on display at the opening ceremony of the Annual Municipal Week, which is taking place at Prince Khalifa Park, Hidd, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
He unveiled developments ranging from new central and traditional markets, walkways, parks and gardens, shopping complexes and centres, as well as beautification initiatives and public support schemes.
They were all drawn up in co-ordination with Bahrain's five municipal councils and are now in the execution phase, said the minister.
"We have chosen those projects in response to public demand and we are planning to spend BD63 million within the next 18 months to carry them out," he said.
"If we had more money we would not have hesitated to do more.
"The new projects follow different concepts and are either commercial or services in nature - like shopping centres and complexes, central and traditional markets, family-oriented initiatives like parks, gardens and walkways or social and humanitarian schemes like events and helping remodel homes."
The new projects were on display at the opening ceremony of the Annual Municipal Week, which is taking place at Prince Khalifa Park, Hidd.
Deputy Premier Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa is patronising the event, which is being held under the slogan: "We are all partners in community development."
Shaikh Khalid was present at the start of activities, which focus on involving the public in decision-making for their areas.
At the opening, Dr Al Ka'abi was keen to refute allegations that he was sidelining councils and treating municipal work like a "dictatorship".
"Accusations that I am trying to sideline municipal councils are wrong because all of my ministry's projects and schemes have to be first approved by councillors before any contractor is given the go-ahead to start work," he said.
"I have managed during my tenure to give councils more power in that all services and projects, not even related to my ministry, have to be passed by them - whether in the planning stage or when actual work happens."
He highlighted the fact that each councillor had a helper and councils were provided with an accountant and legal adviser, while Dr Al Ka'abi had presented a proposal to the Cabinet to give councillors phone and car allowances - even though they get paid more than their counterparts elsewhere in the region.
The minister claimed he was often blamed when projects were not approved, even if they were not viable.
"It is unfair to say that I am running the show like a dictatorship when some proposed ideas by councillors lack the full picture and need to be stopped for revision, not because I just want to halt anything for any reason," he said.
"I can provide statistics that show most council decisions have been approved by me."
Southern Municipal Council chairman Mohsin Al Bakri, who spoke on behalf of other council chairmen, said the councils had become an important part of the community.
"Today, councillors are local representatives in all services and schemes and are the voice that says yes and no to what is carried out in neighbourhoods and areas," he said.
"But councillors are not elected to do everything and that's what we have been trying to promote within the community.
"Thankfully, we managed to raise awareness as we have more public involvement in what gets presented through co-operation from various segments of the community.
"We have just started, but we managed to get huge support from people, through several partnerships with members of the public."
Shaikh Khalid presented plaques to outstanding contributors to municipal work over the past year before touring stalls showcasing projects that will be carried out by the ministry, the five municipalities, the Works Ministry, the Social Development Ministry, the Housing Ministry and the Health Ministry in co-operation with councils.
A film depicting projects and schemes carried out in co-operation with councils was also screened and a comedy play was staged by Al Baydir Theatre Group on the relationship between the public, the councils and the ministry.-TradeArabia News Service