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Councillors urge aid for 4,000 Bahraini homes

Manama, January 23, 2014

Councillors plan to lobby the government to fund 4,000 Bahraini families, who cannot afford to renovate their dilapidated homes.

They want to reintroduce the His Majesty King Hamad Scheme for Dilapidated Homes, which was turned into a loan-based system under the Housing Ministry in 2012, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

They fear thousands of families are living in danger as their homes could collapse any time.

All 40 members of the country's five municipal councils will attend a joint meeting on February 6 for the first time in their 12-year history to discuss the issue.

The scheme was originally a grant under the Royal Charity Organisation and was overseen by the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry for 10 years.

Around 4,000 homes have already been rebuilt and the last batch of houses will soon be distributed at a ceremony.

Muharraq Municipal Council chairman Abdulnasser Al Mahmeed said suspending the original grant was unfair to other families who live in rundown structures.

"Those 4,000 families are ineligible for the loans from the Housing Ministry because they are aged above 50 and are mostly pensioners. In other cases they don't have jobs and can't afford to pay loan instalments," he said.

"It is unfair to build homes for 4,000 families for free and then stop when other homes need to be torn down and rebuilt.

"The scheme should be ongoing and should not stop because what's not dangerous today will be dangerous in the next few years."

Al Mahmeed said outcomes of the meeting will be sent to His Majesty for immediate action.

"We don't want the government to rebuild the 4,000 homes all at once, we want directives from the King with orders to come up with a plan to clear the current waiting lists," he added.

"The current 4,000 homes may increase by 500 or 1,000 in two years, so the issue has to be addressed quickly if we are to successfully ensure nothing is pending."

The meeting was scheduled for January 7, but was postponed over disagreements on the agenda.

Two council chairmen had also rejected the inclusion of a decision to scrap the Joint Municipal Fund, which collects revenue from Bahrain's five municipalities, and turns it into individual funds for each body. - TradeArabia News Service

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