2 Bahrain developers face legal threat
Manama, January 24, 2011
Lawsuits will be filed next month against developers of two multi-million-dinar projects off Bahrain's northern coast, despite lobbying from a senior government official.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the Northern Municipal Council have been given the green light to start formal proceedings against the $1 billion (BD378 million) Al Nurana residential and commercial project and the adjacent Marsa Al Seef development.
The council has already rejected both projects and accuses developers of ignoring a land reclamation ban to start work.
It was asked to hold back on legal action last November by Municipal and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi, who wanted more time to discuss the issue.
However, the council has now given lawyers the nod to file papers against the developers.
The council rejected both projects last year and said the area where they were being planned should only be used for housing.
However, the developers have obtained permits for the projects from Dr Al Ka'abi - despite municipal law stating both the council and government must grant approval.
Reclamation work on both projects has allegedly already started, despite councillors obtaining a Cabinet order to temporarily halt it in the sea between Busaiteen, in Muharraq, and the Northern Town, off the Budaiya coast, for assessment.
'The minister believes that we will lose the case since the council and the ministry are two municipal bodies that serve the same purpose,' said council vice-chairman Sayed Ahmed Al Alawi.
'We have told him that is untrue, considering that we represent the people and he represents the government. For any project to go ahead, our decisions are required collectively.
'We listened to the minister and halted proceedings for the past two months in the hope of proper negotiations, but it seems that the minister wants to have both projects whether we like it or not.
'Detailed information about Marsa Al Seef was only presented to the council last week, despite reclamation work going ahead since last year, but it was sent back in the same mail it came in,' Al Alawi said.
He said councillors planned to pay for the lawsuit against the developers from their own pockets.
'The two projects are being built on government land, which have fallen into private hands without their sale ever being acknowledged and purchase money ever being mentioned in the national closing budget,' he added.
He also said that, according to municipal law, if there was a difference of opinion between the council and the minister, the Cabinet should have the final say.
'This didn't happen and it is just a matter of time until justice is served, people get their land back and work is stopped forever,' Al Alawi said.
The court case would mean work on the projects would have to come to a halt until the dispute was settled.
However, Al Manara Development Company managing director Dr Hassan Al Bastaki earlier insisted the company had not broken any laws.
Al Baskati said it took the firm three years to gain permission to start the project, which was done according to proper procedures.
Officials from the Marsa Al Seef Development Company could not be reached for comment.
Al Nurana is planned to be a mixed-use waterfront project overlooking Bahrain Fort, comprising coastal villas, apartments, retail space, entertainment, tourism facilities and office space.
Marsa Al Seef has been billed as a waterfront city, with an emphasis on an 'exclusive maritime lifestyle'.
It is set to include a residential tower, boardwalks and plaza, leisure and retail facilities, a marina, office towers and educational parks.
Al Nurana officials also could not be reached yesterday.-TradeArabia News Service