Study on five new offshore towns nearing completion

AN environmental impact assessment study for Bahrain’s five new off-shore towns is set to be completed by the end of this year.

Housing and Urban Planning Minister Amna Al Romaihi told the Shura Council, in a written response, that the Urban Planning and Development Authority has hired a specialised consultancy firm to study the proposed sites and submit reports.

She added that the study would address all environmental aspects that need to be protected at the various phases of work.

The minister explained that studies on the financial and social impact would also be conducted as work on the towns progresses.

A task force was formed in 2021 by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, who is head of the High Urban Planning Committee, to study blueprints of the five towns. The team was assigned to review plans for the cities to be developed in Fasht Al Jarm, Suhaila Island, Fasht Al Azm, Bahrain Bay and Hawar Islands.

“We had contracted the best consultancy firms globally which reviewed plans for the new towns before mapping them up,” said Ms Al Romaihi. “However, to ensure the initial blueprints are comprehensive and balanced, a task force comprising national and international experts was also formed to further assess the plans,” she added.

“The task force has completed the initial artist impressions for the towns, which are now being reviewed by the High Urban Planning Committee.

“The ministry has now hired a specialised consultancy firm to provide an environmental impact assessment study, which is set to be completed by the year-end. As we progress in our work on the towns, economic and social feasibility studies would also be conducted.”

Ms Al Romaihi, who was responding to a question by Shura Council member Abdulrahman Jamsheer, said strategic developmental projects were instrumental to the country’s growth.

“New developmental projects elevate the country, contribute to its growth and urbanisation while also attracting investments,” she added.

In another written response on insurance for domestic workers, Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan said manpower agencies have to provide replacements if housemaids or other domestic workers leave their place of work within the first three months.

“Employers have the right to complain against manpower agencies that fail to provide replacements during the period,” said Mr Humaidan, who is also Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) board chairman.

“Optional insurance policies are now being provided, which will allow employers to recover their cost partially if a worker runs away, leaves work, dies or suffers from paralysis or a chronic disease.

“Insurance firms will also reimburse employers if a domestic worker is involved in an accident and needs treatment, or has to be repatriated after death.”

Meanwhile, in another written response to a question on street sellers by MP Mohammed Janahi, Municipalities Affairs and Agriculture Minister Wael Al Mubarak said 8,595 violations have been removed by the Capital Governorate between 2019 and the end of last year.

Mr Al Mubarak added that most of the violations occurred in the Old Manama Suq and Saasa and Gudaibiya Avenues.

“Fifty-three Bahrainis have been licensed in the Capital Governorate between 2020 and 2022 to conduct business activities, mainly selling fish, fruit and vegetables, perfumes, gifts, clothes, plants in addition to seeds and foods,” the minister said. “We are intensifying inspections in co-ordination with other ministries and government bodies.”





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