Major expatriate clubs in Bahrain are continuing to provide support to people hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, despite themselves facing a struggle to survive.
These registered clubs and associations are facing plummeting incomes while their expenses remain the same, or go up in certain cases, as all activities were suspended since March as part of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Club officials told the GDN that from the limited reserve funds at their disposal they are unable to pay their staff, utility bills and rent to Bahrain Real Estate Investment Company (Edamah).
The Indian Club Bahrain, which has around 2,500 members, has apparently been served a notice for pending rent despite requesting a waiver.
“Though the club’s sport activities have resumed, they are causing more expenditure than generating income,” club president Stalin Joseph told the GDN.
“There is no way to generate income, and there are no sponsorships.
“We are hiring professional people to sanitise our badminton hall, toilets, reception and other areas of the club twice every day.
“Currently, we have five paid staff members and our monthly expense is around BD3,500, plus the additional expenses on maintenance, to fulfil health and safety guidelines as stipulated by the Health Ministry.
“Edamah presented us with an invoice in July for rent for the remaining six months which is BD9,085; a waiver would be a great relief.”
Bahrain’s largest expatriate association, the Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam (BKS), is also in a similar situation.
“We have around 6,000 members and we are running on income generated through monthly subscriptions, income from programmes or the hall being rented out,” said BKS president P V Radhakrishna Pillai.
“However, we cannot insist on subscriptions from members at such a time, and we have no other income, but we have to pay four staff members, rent and the utility bills.
“Survival will be difficult as we have to raise around BD3,000, with reserve funds and donations being limited.”
Both the BKS and Indian Club have not yet resumed activities fully, while sports areas are being reopened gradually.
The GDN reported previously that gyms, swimming pools and outdoor sport fields were allowed to reopen on August 6 in a further easing of restrictions enforced following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pakistan Club president Rehan Ahmed also cited the need for a rent waiver, noting that the club resumed karate classes, but people were reluctant to join.
“Maintenance itself is costing us much as we have to run the air-conditioning and lights and we have to pay salaries to four staff members.
“We have put in a request to Edamah for a rent waiver but have not received any response.
“One of our main incomes was the rent from the auditorium which is now nil.
“We started karate classes, but not much participation.
A number of other registered associations, including the Kerala Catholic Association, Filipino Club, Telugu Kala Samiti and others, also find themselves in similar situations, the GDN has learnt.
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