Bahrain begins major market revamp work
Manama, September 12, 2012
Trenching work has begun on a BD1 million ($2.63 million) project aimed at restoring Bahrain’s Isa Town Traditional Market two months after it was destroyed by fire, said a top official.
The project, which is expected to be completed within eight months, will include the creation of 600 stalls to accommodate the 520 traders, whose businesses were severely damaged in July's blaze, and others who sold goods from car parks in the area.
Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Nabeel Abu Al Fateh said the work would be done as quickly and as efficiently as possible, following directives from His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
"The new marketplace will be constructed in high standards to ensure that safety and security are provided. Arrangements are underway with the Interior Ministry to provide fire extinguishers and firefighting equipment, while policemen will be present throughout the selling times in the market when it reopens," he said.
"The Premier's directives are to ensure that the market gets back to business in the fastest time and most efficient way possible and we have obliged the contractor to work in full capacity to do so.
"The cost of the revamp will be BD998,000. This amount will be utilised not just to build the marketplace according to traditional designs but also to add missing facilities like loading areas and offices for government and municipal officials."
More than 120 firemen from every fire station in Bahrain, including staff on leave and off-duty, battled for more than five hours to bring the July 15 blaze under control. The exact cause of the fire has still not been officially announced.
It reportedly broke out in an electronics stall and caused losses worth hundreds of thousands of dinars.
Dr Abu Al Fateh said the new market would be allowed to open only from Thursday afternoon to Saturday night.
"It is a weekend flee market and not a warehouse. So merchants will have to remove their merchandise every day during the weekend and on the last day of sale, to ensure that they don't speed up the wind of fire whenever an incident like what happened in July reoccurs," he said.
Traders affected by the fire have been selling their goods in an area behind the Ramez Trading Centre.
"That plot was originally allocated for an expansion to Ramez. But the Central Municipal Council stopped it due to problems a few years ago and since it is empty we have decided to move all the traders to it as a temporary solution," he said.
Our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News reported last month that more than 300 traders who lost businesses in the fire had filed claims for compensation.
A special ministry committee was formed to assess each case individually and officials said a budget would be allocated once the process was completed.
However, the ministry has already begun distributing compensation worth BD1m, allocated by the Cabinet. NBB also donated BD400,000 and the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry gave BD100,000 to help those affected. – TradeArabia News Service
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