Bahrain's blaze-hit market to reopen
Manama, June 2, 2014
A popular market in Bahrain that was hit by two massive fires in as many years is expected to open later this month.
Isa Town traditional market suffered extensive damage in March this year, when 46 firemen battled for three hours to put out a fire that affected hundreds of shop owners, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It followed an earlier blaze in July 2012 that similarly wreaked havoc at the suq.
His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa yesterday stressed the importance of re-opening the suq as soon as possible at the weekly Cabinet meeting.
He also ordered Interior Minister Lieutenant-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa to launch another investigation into the cause of the latest fire.
"All the building work has now been completed and we are distributing shops to the vendors," the Isa Town traditional market's development committee head Abdulrazaq Hattab told the GDN.
"Of the 480 shops that are available, we have distributed 345 so far - from those, 322 were distributed to those with commercial registrations and 23 were distributed to street vendors in the market.
"Eighty-five of those stalls were distributed just yesterday," Hattab said.
"The Prime Minister was very particular that everyone who suffered should be taken care of and we now have 135 shops left, which will be distributed by drawing names and shop numbers at random.
"We have had 1,200 people apply, so we want to be as fair as possible and avoid clashes where people accuse us of favouritism.
"However, despite there being a large number of people who have applied for the remaining shops, the number isn't very accurate because in many cases five or six people from the same family have applied."
Hattab said that the development committee would meet again this week to arrange the final stall distribution.
"I hope to have the market open before or in time for Ramadan barring any complications," he said.
"We have had weekly meetings since the first fire in 2012 and we are confident that the market is ready to open."
Cabinet approved a memorandum by the ministerial committee for services and infrastructure head Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa which recommended commissioning the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry to follow-up on public safety procedures and preventative measures in order to avoid more fires in the future.
It also recommended taking stringent action against those found to have violated norms with regard to proper storage procedures and safe electrical wiring.
Former traders at the Isa Town traditional market are currently exhibiting their merchandise during weekends at a makeshift suq near the new BD1 million ($2.6 million) complex. - TradeArabia News Service