A total of 240 government apartment buildings in a dilapidated state will be demolished to pave way for modern housing projects.
The apartments – comprising 1,736 housing units ranging from 67sqm to 116sqm – were built between 1976 and 1981 in Umm Al Hassam, Sanabis, Muharraq, Busaiteen, Hidd and Isa Town and have worn out with the passage of time.
The Housing Ministry will raze the properties and build 6,750 spacious units in their place – each with a minimum 160sqm area, modern facilities, services and infrastructure.
The plans were revealed by ministry officials, who were present at the Muharraq Municipal Council meeting yesterday to urge councillors to speed up the eviction process.
Assistant Under-Secretary Redha Al Adraj indicated that the apartments were in a derelict condition and could collapse any moment.
“It’s a threat to their lives,” he said.
“The foundations of the buildings have started to crumble and the ceilings of toilets, kitchens and rooms are falling apart.
“The material used for construction decades ago is not the same as what we use today and their specifications were different. The buildings are old and shaky and cannot sustain beyond a certain limit.
“We are racing against time to get tenants evacuated and we have managed to get 860 apartments cleared, which is 54.37pc of the total number of units.”
Mr Al Adraj added that the concept of an apartment was different 45 years ago.
“What was enough for a big family at the time is not sufficient for the present day household,” he pointed out.
“The new concept will put existing space into better use as we go vertical, up to 11 storeys, while providing 6,750 new apartments across the country.
“It will also include much-needed services and amenities that the current buildings don’t have, alongside necessary infrastructure.”
Legal affairs head Nawal Abdullatif stressed the government’s keenness to improve the lives of citizens.
“It is not just about knocking down rickety apartments, it’s more about the social and humanitarian aspect since families in those buildings are living miserably,” she said.
“To ensure residents of these buildings leave faster, we have introduced BD200 monthly accommodation payments for two years rather than the current BD100 support we give to families waiting in the ministry’s lists for normal housing services.
“Evicting people with kindness is a priority as we are seeking to prevent a disaster.”
Council chairman Ghazi Al Murbati indicated that eviction procedures were progressing at a slow pace, while also raising concerns over the allowances, should replacements extend beyond two years.
“Families prefer to live in fear than move into a rented accommodation because they are worried about their finances if new apartments are delayed beyond two years,” he said.
“We need a proper system that is fair and takes into account each and every family’s economic situation. Why not extend financial support until a proper housing unit is given?
“Officials are speaking about being humane and kind and I believe announcing extended payments would convince families to move to another accommodation until they are allotted a new home.”
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