Bahrain sets up fund to tackle floods crisis
Manama, November 29, 2012
Bahrain has created a special fund prevent a repeat of flooding which caused chaos across the country last week, said a top government official.
BD400,000 ($1.05 million) has been set aside to ensure 50 tankers remain on permanent standby in an attempt to keep key roads and highways clear, according to a report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
Bahrain's first major downpour of the winter caused flooding in large parts of Manama, Isa Town, Sanabis and Riffa on November 19.
Meteorologists confirmed nearly 8mm of rain fell and 30 car accidents were reported during rush hour the following morning.
The emergency budget has been taken from Works Ministry funds originally allocated towards Bahrain's sewage network with the consent of the Finance Ministry.
A joint committee of Works and Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs ministries has been set up to supervise work done by seven companies employed to carry out drainage work.
"Any councillor will be able to call one of three men that we have assigned as team leaders in the emergency committee and a tanker will be immediately deployed to drain water, even if the place is connected to a rain drainage network," said Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Nabeel Abu Al Fateh.
"Councils can call the committee with their needs for tankers and the contracts signed with the seven companies entitles us to use any tanker per day for BD70.
"We have now said that 50 tankers would be enough, but we can ask for more if needed, the budget we have of BD400,000 is more than enough."
Dr Al Fateh said the Works Ministry would continue to handle main roads and highways and the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry inner streets and neighbourhoods.
"We have just divided work to ensure that we carry out relief work fast and in an effective manner according to the speciality of ministry, despite under ministerial descriptions these duties come under the Works Ministry," he said.
Dr Al Fateh said the waterproofing of homes was provided voluntarily by his ministry.
"We are supporting people by having waterproofs installed and it is not our fault that homes flood," he said.
"There is an open budget to waterproof homes and whatever list is presented to me, I sign without any delay as we try to help people.
"The process is lengthy and takes months to have waterproof installed whether through procedure, tendering and signing agreements and for this some homes wait until the last minute before the rainy season, but they get waterproofed."
Dr Al Fateh was speaking after being summoned, along with Works Ministry officials, to an extraordinary meeting at the Central Municipal Council yesterday to discuss progress on waterproofing homes.
Works Ministry sanitary engineering and maintenance director Ebrahim Al Hawaj said studies were underway to help Bahrain tackle future flooding issues.
"We may introduce injecting rain water through a biological process to underground water that could later be used for consumption," he said.
Al Hawaj said additional drains could be fixed in 95 locations across the country. "We will finish work mid next year on the locations and we are open to suggestions for more," he said.
Works Ministry sewage networks chief Abdulnabi Al Kofi added the theft of drain covers and motorists parking on top of them and the way some roads had been designed were key problems in tackling flooding. – TradeArabia News Service