Bahrain's housing crisis to be probed
Manama, February 26, 2014
Bahrain's Parliament has launched an urgent investigation into the kingdom's housing crisis.
MPs claim 60,000 are on waiting lists for government homes and some have been waiting for up to 20 years, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The investigation will focus on failures to implement new criteria approved by the Cabinet last year, which were supposed to ease existing restrictions.
The probe was set up following an urgent request submitted by 15 MPs.
Housing Minister Bassem Al Hamer, who attended parliament's weekly session, told MPs the issue was complicated and requested parliament to judge the situation after completion of a five-year plan to clear waiting lists that got underway last year.
"We have an ambitious strategy for housing projects across Bahrain that won't just see a few homes built to silence some people," he said.
"Our focus is on building new big towns that don't only cover needs of the area's residents, but also others in the governorate, and people who live in areas that don't have any available plots of land to build on.
"We are working in fast-paced steps that everyone can easily notice.
"For example, we have 4,400 applications in the Southern Governorate and there are plans for 6,000 homes, and the only problem we are facing is in one project, south of the Riffa Fort, with us needing to buy plots of land worth BD9 million ($23.7 million)."
Al Hamer said MPs often focus on rare cases in which people have been waiting for decades for homes.
"We asked people to correct their application status in 2001, 2005, 2006 and in 2012, and we are still looking into rare cases involving some families who have changed their request for homes to loans (to build homes) and then homes again or have changed the breadwinner's name on the application."
Minister of State for Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Abdulaziz Al Fadhel pledged the government would fully back the probe to ensure the truth is revealed to the public.
But he also pointed out that new criteria were submitted by Al Hamer last year, but had yet to be approved as costs were still being calculated.
MP Shaikh Al Ma'awada claimed he knew families living in Busaiteen whose grandparents had applied for government homes 30 years ago and who were still waiting.
"The ministry has continuously cheated people and there are applications submitted by grandparents, which grandsons are still waiting to turn into a reality," he claimed.
"Al Hamer's honesty and will are acknowledged, but he has told me that there are orders from high above that he can't tell me about, but people have the right to know what is happening to reclaimed lands and who is getting them." - TradeArabia News Service