Muharraq drops all new projects

COUNCILLORS in Muharraq have unanimously voted to drop all new municipal projects from the draft 2021-2022 budget.

The decision was taken at the Muharraq Municipal Council’s weekly meeting yesterday (April 20) to help the government recover from the devastating impact of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

However, only operational and maintenance costs will remain untouched in the budget, the members agreed during the session that was held online.

Councillors are also planning to make cuts in the budgets of infrastructure projects in the governorate for the two years with oil prices dropping sharply since the pandemic started sweeping the globe.

“We don’t need new municipal projects, what we have now is fine and meets residents’ needs,” said council chairman Ghazi Al Murbati.

“Anyway, several municipal properties such as public parks, walkways and gardens have been closed for weeks and no one knows when they will reopen as the government discourages public gatherings,” he added.

“These properties will need operational and maintenance costs and that’s all what we want financing for in the new budget.

“When things improve from the global chaos caused by Covid-19, we will assess the situation and accordingly decide on the next step with regard to new projects which again will depend on the availability of extra budgets.”

Mr Al Murbati said infrastructure budgets expected to arrive next week may also be trimmed.

“I understand that people’s needs comes first but people across the country want roads, sewerage and lighting – the cake was small and now it has become smaller,” he said.

“So, things need to be trimmed here to the minimal, unfortunately.

“In any cases wages and allowances of municipal employees are a red line which neither us nor the government can cross, ever.”

Council services and public utilities committee chairman Fadhel Al Oud said helping the government get back on its feet took priority over having new projects.

“Employees’ standard of living, the hardship caused by Covid-19, recovery plans and maintaining things at a certain level, whatever the costs, are more important than new projects that people don’t care about,” he added.

“Honestly, people can live with temporary solutions as municipal or infrastructure projects that are low in cost until things settle.

“Major infrastructure projects wouldn’t be touched as they are vital in the country’s recovery process and progress – but any other projects could be managed through maintenance, remodelling and repairs.”

l Meanwhile, the Muharraq Municipal Council yesterday became the first of Bahrain’s three elected municipal councils to hold its meeting remotely following the go-ahead from Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf.




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