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Traders blocking the road with their produce in suq

Old Manama suq set to be revamped

MANAMA, May 1, 2015

Multi-storey car parks, public toilets and pedestrian bridges could all be built or installed in and around the Old Manama Suq in a bid to revive business in the capital's historic trading heartland.

A drive to clean up the suq was launched last week by the Capital Trustees Board in collaboration with the Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry after the area was branded dangerous and a fire hazard, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

It followed board chairman Mohammed Al Khozaae's earlier remarks that the current set-up was unsafe.

“Cleaning up the suq is something we will do in parallel with developing it,” said Al Khozaae.

“We need to speed up the work and since there is interest from the government to revitalise the market, why not push ahead with phase two of having new multi-storey car parks, toilets and pedestrian bridges.

“We have already presented the idea to Industry and Commerce Minister Zayed Al Zayani, who agrees that it is a step in the right direction - we will have to wait for budgets or possible sponsors, but we can work on artist's impressions for now.

“Empty plots of land or old homes or buildings have been located and they will need to be purchased by the government.”

Al Khozaae said that many visitors to the suq struggled to find space to park and he hoped that the new multi-storey car parks would go some way in tackling that problem.

“Another issue is toilets as few are available or are in very hard-to-reach areas,” he said.

“A pedestrian bridge will be also nice as people can then move easily during bustling hours at the suq without fear of facing the road.”

Board vice-chairman and technical committee chairman Mazen Alumran said the suq needed a major overhaul if it was to thrive.

“Pavements and alleyways in the suq are dangerous as they are used by traders to display their merchandise, leaving just one metre and a half - which is barely enough for a small car to pass through,” he said.

“We are well aware of the dangers that may come if any of the merchandise - whether textiles or wood - catches fire.

“The fire will catch so fast that it will soon be out of control and firemen will face a tough task.

“A rescue plan is being formulated and we are working with others on it, taking into account that there are several derelict shops there, which need to be kept intact, in order to maintain the suq's value.”

Following a tour of the suq last week by representatives from the Capital Trustees Board, Capital Governorate, the General Directorate for Civil Defence and the Capital Trustees Authority, suggestions were put forward that included obliging all shops to have fire extinguishers and limiting the extent to which merchandise can be displayed on the street.

Al Khozaae did not give an estimate for when the infrastructure work in the suq might get underway, but he said the compulsory purchase of land and derelict buildings could be done as soon as the national budget is announced in the coming months. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: business | Manama | revamp | revive | Suq | old |

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