$113m contract to rebuild homes awarded
Manama, October 16, 2009
Bahrain's plan to rescue dilapidated homes is to go ahead with the appointment of a company to tear down and rebuild 1,000 houses over the next six years.
The Gulf Daily News, our sister newspaper, reported in June that the His Majesty King Hamad Scheme for Dilapidated Homes was up to four years behind schedule.
However, contractor Sayed Khadim Al Durazi has now been awarded a BD42.6 million ($113 million) contract to bulldoze and rebuild 1,000 dangerous homes listed under the scheme.
Work could now start by the end of the year, according to Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Nabeel Abu Al Fateh.
"Hopefully we will not exceed our total allocated budget of BD60m until the end of 2014," he said.
"We are expecting the costs of knocking down and rebuilding homes, in addition to other requirements, to cost us around BD50m."
The news will be a welcome boost for families who have been moved out of their crumbling homes and into temporary accommodation, only to see their old houses demolished and not rebuilt.
There are currently around 700 to 900 families living in temporary accommodation as they wait for their new homes to be completed.
The newspaper reported in June that just over 100 of those families never received rent allowances after the government argued it never gave the go-ahead for them to move out.
Those families have now started receiving rent payments, but councillors have claimed the scheme was "falling apart".
Under the scheme the government allocates BD10m annually to cover the costs of the project, which is supervised by the Royal Charity Organisation and run by the Municipal-ities and Agriculture Ministry.
Under the scheme, dilapidated houses are knocked down and rebuilt for poor families, while they stay in government-paid accommodation until work on their homes is complete.
The project was passed first from the old Works and Housing Ministry, which started the project in 2003, to the Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry two years ago. However, a limited budget meant only 300 homes have been rebuilt since then.
The government had planned to halve the project's budget for this year and next year, but objections from MPs saw the King intervene.
He restored the original budget and assigned the Royal Charitable Organisation (RCO) to oversee the initiative in March.
Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi announced in July that 1,025 families have had their applications approved for their homes to be demolished and rebuilt or renovated.
"There are concerns from councillors that we will exceed the budget if rent allowances for those move out until their homes are rebuilt is counted, in addition to administrative costs, but according to current calculations everything is fine," Dr Abu Al Fateh said.
He added that applications to be included in the scheme were no longer being accepted, at least until the homes of those already on waiting lists are completed.
"We have stopped accepting new applications until we manage to renovate half of the homes on the list," he revealed. "According to new terms in our contract, the contractor will have to complete a certain number of homes within 18 months." - TradeArabia News Service