Bahrain halts digging at housing project site
Manama, May 21, 2013
Digging work at a major housing project site in Bahrain will be temporarily halted with immediate effect following an edict by a senior government official.
The digging work the Buhair Valley will not resume unless approved by His Majesty King Hamad’s Personal Representative and Supreme Council for the Environment President Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, according to a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Contractors will be allowed to transport the debris and rubble amassed from digging works, prior to the issuance of the edict, to the dumping locations as agreed with the council.
A total of 100 trucks will be mobilised to transport the amassed debris and rubble within two weeks to Askar dumping ground belonging to the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry.
A sample of polluted water from stagnant swamps in the valley will also be analysed. Soil samples will be taken to measure gas density and metallic residues.
The council has urged all parties in charge of construction projects to comply with the laws on protection of environment to ensure sustained development in Bahrain.
The GDN reported yesterday that decades of accumulated waste combusted on Sunday as it was being removed from the Buhair Valley area, where new government homes are planned.
Several large fires broke out after methane gas combined with oxygen ignited the garbage, prompting a site visit by senior environment officials yesterday.
Council chief executive Dr Adel Al Zayani and other senior officials visited the site.
The council yesterday held a meeting with the Buhair Housing Project Committee to discuss efforts taken by the government to ensure the comfort of people living at the vicinity of the valley.
Dr Al Zayani said air quality sensors were working round the clock to measure emissions at the site of the project.
Civil Defence Security and Safety chief lieutenant Colonel Sa'ad Hassan Al Nuaimi said the fires were a new phenomenon, which started three days ago and the fire brigades are working continuously to put them out.
The contractor has been urged to provide his own crew and equipment while also preparing a contingency plan to deal with work risks.
Lt Colonel Al Nuaimi said it was found that the person in charge of the project has only a small tank and a weak pump, which will not work if fire breaks out in more than one spot at a time.
He said Civil Defence crew fought fires in the eastern part of the project till 3am yesterday (May 20).
Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister's advisor Bob Doig said the ministry was closely monitoring the situation to determine what could be done to tackle the environmental repercussions.
Public Health director Dr Khairiya Mousa said the anti-malaria department has been able to temporarily control the swamp yesterday and a team of specialists managed to stop mosquito breeding for two weeks.
The area's municipal councillor, Ahmed Al Ansari, had called on the authorities to halt work altogether until all health concerns are addressed. "We cannot allow this to continue if people's lives are endangered," he said.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that plans for the upcoming housing project could be reviewed due to environmental and health concerns.
An official said once the waste is cleared, a review of the entire area would be carried out, after which a decision would be taken on whether government houses can be constructed there.
Work to build 387 government homes in the valley restarted earlier this month, after being suspended last year due to environmental concerns.
Around 1,800 housing units were originally expected to be constructed in the valley. Another 900 units are due to be built by the private sector in another part of the valley, which is presently flooded, and later offered for public sale. – TradeArabia News Service