Major Bahrain projects facing lawsuit
Manama, September 22, 2010
Two mutli-million-dinar projects off Bahrain's northern coast are facing legal action for allegedly ignoring a ban on land reclamation.
A lawsuit is being brought against developers of the $1 billion (BD378 million) Al Nurana residential and commercial project, as well as the adjacent Marsa Al Seef.
Legal papers are due to be submitted to the court next week by lawyers acting on behalf of the Northern Municipal Council, which is continuing to function as candidates for the next council elections file their nomination papers.
Councillors rejected both projects earlier this year, saying the area should be used for a housing development.
But Municipalities and Agriculture Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi gave them the go-ahead - even though municipal law requires the approval of the council, along with other concerned government bodies.
Reclamation work on both projects has allegedly started, despite councillors obtaining an order from the Cabinet to temporary halt reclamation in the sea between Busaiteen, in Muharraq, and the Northern Town, off the Budaiya coast, for assessment.
'Both projects don't seem to exist on the 2030 master plan drawn up by the Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry, but because the country is being run by VIPs rather than the power of the people, reclamation work started,' said council technical committee chairman Sayed Ahmed Al Alawi.
'Files on violations committed by developers of both projects have already been presented to a law firm and we hoped they (the developers) would stop willingly, but they never did.'
The council has now voted to take the developers to court in a bid to halt work.
'The minister has bypassed our authority several times, but these are two projects that we can't stay quiet about,' claimed Al Alawi.
'The land taken for the projects has been earmarked for a major housing project, while the rest should have remained as sea for fishermen to ply their trade.'
However, Al Alawi - who is running for election again on behalf of Al Wefaq - claimed the Northern Municipality had refused to fund the legal costs.
'They get their orders from the minister rather than us, but that's not a problem as we have agreed to come up with funding ourselves,' he said.
'If the government thinks that by stopping municipal financing we will stop fighting the projects, then they are wrong - because we will continue fighting by any possible means, even if it takes years.
'But as we wait for years in court, developers can't build since their projects will be under the court's scrutiny until the dispute is settled.
'At least we can give residents a fresh breath of air and show them their housing dream still exists, while restoring fishermen's livelihoods.'
However, Al Manara Development Company managing director Dr Hassan Al Bastaki said the company would not do anything to break the law and claimed approval had been taken from relevant parties.
'It took us three years to follow up with those concerned and when we finalised everything, work on the project started,' he said.
'The council has every right to do what it wants, but we have our documents that prove whatever we have done was carried out according to proper procedures.'
Attempts to reach the Marsa Al Seef Development Company proved unsuccessful yesterday after an official at Global Banking Corporation (GBCorp) - the major shareholder in the project - refused to provide contact details.
Marsa Al Seef is planned as a waterfront city, with an emphasis on an 'exclusive maritime lifestyle'.
It includes a residential tower, boardwalks and plaza, leisure and retail facilities, a marina, office towers and educational parks.
Al Nurana is a mega mixed-use waterfront project overlooking Bahrain Fort and it is set to comprise a mix of coastal villas, apartments, retail space, entertainment, tourism facilities and office space.-TradeArabia News Service