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An artist’s impression of the East Sitra housing project

Sitra fishermen facing eviction for major housing project

MANAMA, July 25, 2015

Scores of Sitra fishermen have been ordered to relocate to make way for a major new government housing project.

The fishermen, who currently occupy the Sefala area of Sitra island, have complained that there is not enough space at its suggested replacement – an area known as Mehzaa, which already serves as a base for other fishermen, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

However, the Capital Trustees Board has offered to double the number of moorings available at Mehzaa, in a bid to placate those affected by the move.

“We don’t know who owns the plot of land that the Sefala fishermen currently occupy, but most likely it is the Housing Ministry,” said the board’s acting chairman Mazen Alumran.

“We will negotiate with the ministry for the allocation of a jetty in the new housing development, but it will take time – and even if it gets incorporated into the plans, it could just be an additional location to the existing facilities at Mehzaa, which are only 500 metres away.

“It is easier to expand a licensed jetty, such as the one at Mehzaa, than try to get a new plot of land allocated for that use – especially as anything new would have to wait for the new budget in 2017.”

Alumran pledged to increase the number of moorings at Mehzaa from 50 to 100 and urged fishermen at the Sefala site to leave their current location so that vital work on the new housing project could go ahead.

The town that will result from the work, to be known as East Sitra, is set to contain 5,000 homes, among various other services and facilities.

Last month, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, presided over a groundbreaking ceremony for the project, which is being financed through the UAE’s contributions to the $10 billion GCC development package for Bahrain announced in 2011.

The Housing Ministry has already distributed certificates allocating houses to 746 applicants as part of the project’s initial phases.

“The new town will serve 5,000 families, which must be our priority, and professional fishermen will have to understand that we are seeking the greater good,” said Alumran, who added that the board was “not responsible” for the plight of amateur fishermen, who must “find their own solutions”.

“For now, the professional licensed fishermen at Sefala have to leave immediately to ensure work on the housing project is not disrupted,” he said.

“We expect expansion work at the alternative Mehzaa location to be complete in less than six months.” - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: project | Housing | Relocate | Fishermen | Sitra |

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