$106m labour township project on track
Manama, August 31, 2011
A key phase of a BD40 million ($106 million) township in Hidd is set to be completed by the end of the year, said senior Bahrain ministry officials.
This will consist of 12 buildings out of a total of 78, ranging from three to five storeys high.
More than 5,000 labourers are already living in accommodation in the first phase of the project, which houses 13 buildings. It was completed in January last year and consists of 7,000 rooms.
The project is being carried out by the Bahrain Investment Warf (BIW) Labour Accommodation Company, which started three years ago in an area of 120,000sqm.
It aims to give labourers access to quality accommodation away from residential areas, which has been a major issue for years.
Bahrain's five municipal councils have maintained for years that poorer workers often club together to rent properties in residential areas, many of which are dilapidated and not equipped to house people in large numbers.
They have demanded a law that would lead to the eviction of all labour camps from residential areas.
It was sparked by complaints from Bahraini families across the country, who say foreign workers living next to their homes have made their lives a misery.
Residents accused expatriate bachelors of being drunk, noisy, harassing women and walking half-naked through the streets.
They claimed trucks driven by expatriates were also causing traffic problems in narrow residential roads.
Company board member Murad Al Ramadan revealed work on the second phase had slowed down due to the first phase not being fully occupied.
"We still have around 2,000 rooms not occupied, so work on the second phase had slowed down," he said.
"The project aims to accommodate the entire market, not only Hidd Industrial Area."
Al Ramadan, who is also Al Khaleej Development Company (Tameer) deputy chief executive and head of investments, stressed the second phase would accommodate 3,168 labourers.
"Instead of companies building their own accommodation and have them scattered around the country, the project provides a better community and solves the problems' of labourers living in residential areas," Al Ramadan added.
Each room will accommodate between two and six labourers, depending on the design and their positions in the workplace.
The township will include services for labourers to meet their daily needs such as a medical centre, markets, restaurants and recreational centre, among others.
Al Ramadan said it was also open to companies not operating within industrial areas.
Officials earlier revealed that the camp layout and the number of people sharing the rooms followed Labour Ministry regulations, which are an average of six sharing 25sqm to 30sqm rooms.
The Muharraq Municipal Council previously said the project would help officials push for new laws to improve the living conditions of expatriates.
It said the only thing municipal councils could do was fine offenders for not following building rules or using the camp without a permit.
If an alternative was found, the council said it could push parliament and the government to implement a law to force landlords to stop renting to labourers.
The councils have been working on a draft law on evicting labour camps from residential areas.
It would allow landlords to rent homes to only expatriate families and professionals.
Labourers and bachelors living in residential areas would have six months from the day the law takes effect to move out or be evicted.-TradeArabia News Service