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Bahrain plans 'labour town' for workers

Manama, April 3, 2010

A new township that will accommodate around 10,000 foreign workers who currently live in more than 100 labour camps is being planned in Bahrain, a leading councilor has said.

The project has already been approved by the Southern Municipal Council and has received the backing of Municipalities and Agriculture Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi.

The man behind the initiative planned to be built in East Riffa, municipal councillor Dhiab Al Nuaimi, says it is needed to cope with the rising numbers of expat workers living there.

'The number of labourers in the (Southern) governorate is increasing rapidly and this is affecting residents,' he said.

The council has already identified land opposite the Ramez discount warehouse, East Riffa, as a potential location for the township.

However, it is now trying to identify the landowners so that it can approach them to acquire the plot.

'We just need to find out who owns this land to see if we can acquire it,' explained Al Nuaimi.

'It will be a great location as all the buildings behind it are factories and industries. The plan is to also relocate East Riffa's workshops and garages to the township,” he added.

'I suggested these workshops be moved to the new township when I proposed the project two years ago.The suggestion was approved by the ministry.'

Councillors hope that housing all workers in one place will improve the lives of Bahraini residents, who have long complained about living next to makeshift labour accommodation.

Al Nuaimi claimed many Bahraini families were moving out of the area due to rising number of labourers living in their community, which he said had also led to an increase in crime and other problems.

He has previously blamed labourers for increasing burglary rates, as well as accusing them of public indecency, drunkenness and chasing housemaids.

Trucks driving workers to and from their accommodation through the area's narrow streets are also endangering children's lives.

The large number of foreigners living in the area has also impacted on services - particularly the sewage system.

Tankers have had to be deployed to empty overflowing septic tanks as authorities struggle with waste produced by 4,000 houses in three blocks alone.

However, it is hoped the new labour township will also benefit the workers who live there, since they will no longer be crammed into tiny apartments or homes.

Plans for the township follow years of complaints from all five of Bahrain's municipal councils, which are pushing for similar 'labour towns' in every governorate.

In November 2008, Dr Al Ka'abi rejected a move by council chairmen to ban expatriate labourers from residential areas.

The councils then submitted a draft law to parliament, which would allow landlords to rent residential property only to expatriate families and professionals.

Under that proposal, labourers and unskilled bachelors living in residential areas would have six months from the day the law took effect to move out or be evicted. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Workers | Riffa | Labour town |

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