Lack of planning ‘is draining funds’: Bahraini MPs

Parliament, Bahrain’s three municipal councils and the Capital Trustees Board have called for a probe after claims that several sites were being dug up, on an average, three times a year for work by different contractors

  

Bahrain is losing thousands of dinars meant for development work due to a lack of co-ordination between departments within ministries and government bodies.

Parliament, Bahrain’s three municipal councils and the Capital Trustees Board have called for a probe after claims that several sites were being dug up, on an average, three times a year for work by different contractors.

Co-ordination

MPs will launch the investigation in co-ordination with municipal representatives to reduce unnecessary spending at a time when the government has introduced stringent austerity measures.

Parliament public utilities and environment affairs committee chairman Mohammed Buhamood, a former northern municipal council chairman, said the probe will cover all roadworks done since December 2018.

Mr Buhamood highlighted areas dug up near his home on the same road over the past few months.

“First, it was the Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Ministry for new road and sewerage networks, then the Electricity and Water Authority and shortly after Batelco, which meant the road was dug three times,” he said.

“They should share the cost or pay extra for specialised digging.

“There has to be an investigation because tens of thousands, possibly up to millions, have been lost because of lack of co-ordination.

“Isn’t it one government? Shouldn’t there be a linked system?

“Chaos is costly and public money is being squandered.”

Southern Municipal Council chairman Bader Al Tamimi said excuses of tenders being issued at different times were unacceptable since all service departments concerned sign on forms for each project before the work begins.

“Way-leave forms are signed by officials in the municipalities, roads, sewage, electricity, water, transportation and telecommunications departments, each within their authority to ensure that everyone is aware of what’s going on,” he said.

“Even telecom companies are being asked to sign to ensure that their networks are not hindering development work.

“But most of the time many entities claim to be unaware of projects being implemented despite signing on it.”

Mr Al Tamimi said lack of co-ordination was something that the government needed to look into immediately.

He pointed out that a particular road was dug up in East Riffa to install new electricity cables earlier this year.

“It was again dug up a few months later for maintenance work on water pipes for homes and commercial buildings,” he said.

“Both water and electricity are under the EWA; double payments could have been avoided through simple co-ordination.”

He said it costs BD15 to dig up a square metre of ground.

“I believe within each ministry, departments tend to issue tenders at different times, making it difficult to co-ordinate work.

Planning

“It is just a matter of planning: Work should be unified by placing tenders together,” said Mr Al Tamimi.

Parliament services committee chairman Ahmed Al Ansari said individual ministers cannot be held responsible “as it is a collaborative sequence of mistakes by the entire government.”

“It is unfair to tax people to carry out services, when more can be done.

“The problem is repeated and needs to stop immediately, whether Parliament investigates or not.”

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