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Work halted on Bahrain housing project

Manama, February 4, 2014

Bahrain's Housing Minister Bassem Al Hamer has been summoned to a council meeting amid claims a $450 million project fails to provide affordable homes.

The Northern Municipal Council has ordered work on the Naseej Properties development in the Northern Town be stopped until the dispute is resolved, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

The company was due to provide 1,618 low-cost housing units and another 367 mid-range units as part of a deal signed in December.

It was due to be split into three categories, one for buyers on government waiting lists whose wages are more than BD800 ($2,094), the second for people whose wages do not exceed BD2,000 and the rest open to everyone, including expatriates.

But councillors say properties are not being sold to families on low incomes.

Council vice-chairman Sayed Ahmed Al Alawi also alleged plots of land in the Northern Town were being sold and distributed without the council's knowledge.

"We have called ministry officials several times, but they never showed up and it is time the minister be summoned to tell us what's going on," he said.

"Just recently, Naseej has started promoting 300 homes in the Northern Town in Bahrain's malls, and despite being called 'social' or 'affordable' they don't serve the purpose behind having the Northern Town established in the first place.

"We are not against privatisation of projects, but they have to be directed to poor families on waiting lists."

The councillor said the foundation stone for the project was laid by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, in 2002 but work did not begin until a decade later.

"There are 18,276 families waiting for homes in the Northern Governorate from around 60,000 across Bahrain and with news that the rich will be getting homes their misery will continue," said Al Alawi.

No one from the Housing Ministry or Naseej Properties could be reached for comment.

But a source close to the project said the developer was selling homes at a loss in the first two categories of the project to meet Housing Ministry obligations to help needy families. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | project | Housing |

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