Bahrain council blocks cleaning firm fee
Manama, September 22, 2011
The Manama Municipal Council yesterday voted to block payments to one of Bahrain's cleaning companies for failing to remove mounting garbage from troubled towns and villages
Councillors have withheld BD377,790 ($1 million) due to the Gulf City Cleaning Company (GCCC).
No other payments will be made until the firm carries out full operations across the Capital Governorate as stated in its contract, said councillors.
They also plan to submit a letter to the leadership demanding that Municipal and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi be sacked for allegedly backing the suspension of operations.
Cleaning work in villages and towns across the country was temporarily suspended by two garbage collection companies on Sunday. It came after threats to workers, Bahrainis and expatriates, with reports of people being assaulted by protesters blocking the roads and entrances to neighbourhoods.
The areas affected include Sanabis and Bilad Al Qadeem in the Capital and Nuwaidrat, Ma'meer and Sitra in the Central governorates. Cleaning work in 10 villages in the Northern Governorate - Karranah, Bani Jamra, Duraz, Daih, Sehla, Abu Quwah, Musla, Karzakan, Malkiya and Demistan - has also been suspended. It forced residents to do the cleaning work, transporting garbage bags in rented six-wheelers to the Askar dump yard.
Meanwhile, weekend cleaning work was suspended in other areas due to clashes between protesters and police, but they were being cleaned during the week, according to company officials. GCCC carries out cleaning work in the Capital and Muharraq governorates and Sphinx Services in the Northern, Central and Southern governorates. Both have reportedly lost up to BD500,000 due to damage to their equipment.
"Since my signature is needed for GCCC to get its payments, I am not willing to sign while they have decided to suspend work in violation of the contract," said council chairman Majeed Millad Al Jazeeri. "We are going to start with this month and continue if they fail to resume their duties.
"Dr Al Ka'abi is issuing statements to the Press saying that cleaning companies have every right to suspend operations because of trouble in towns and villages instead of encouraging them to do their work.
"I don't think it's the minister's job to do public relations for cleaning companies and it is time the leadership sacked him. The necessary letter will be prepared by me and sent to the leadership."
Dr Al Ka'abi earlier said companies feared for the safety of their staff, who had threatened to go on strike if forced to go into troubled villages.
Council vice-chairman and Sanabis councillor Mohammed Mansoor said GCCC had no excuse to suspend its work. "There is excuse in not doing work and if there are problems at night, everything is normal in the morning and the company can easily do their cleaning work rather than have volunteering residents do it for them," he said.
Council towns and villages development committee chairman and Billad Al Qadeem councillor Sadiq Al Basri also backed the decision.
"They say Billad Al Qadeem is troubled, which is true in a sense, but Sphinx Services is working in the other half that separates the village into two governorates - Capital and Northern," he said.
"While Sphinx workers do work on one side, GCCC workers are seen sitting, eating and chatting."
Municipality financial and administrative affairs director Faisal Ibrahim told councillors that the municipality already deducts payments from GCCC whenever it fails to do its duties.
A ministry statement said cleaning work was going on undeterred in most parts of the country, around 90 per cent of which it is responsible for cleaning.
"We refuse accusations by a certain political society that we are responsible for problems associated with failures in collecting garbage. Rioting and vandalism using garbage and containers is the reason for difficulties doing cleaning work," it said.
The ministry reiterated its commitment to complying with government plans for preservation of human health, the ecosystem and continuity of cleaning operations all over the kingdom. It warned that containers should not be exploited for illegal purposes and stressed its keenness to help companies in their work. – TradeArabia News Service
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