Local News

Ministry push to stub it out

February 6 - 12, 2008

THOUSANDS of government workers could be moved out of Manama to offices in outlying areas to help ease the capital's parking and congestion misery.

Other initiatives are also being considered to solve the dilemma as a growing number of cars on the roads are causing anger and angst amongst residents and commuters.

Tackling problems in the most congested areas is set to be addressed by the government as part of an urban development scheme.

Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa has ordered the Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry to conduct a study of unused plots in old regions of Muharraq and Manama in a bid to turn them into car parks.

As soon as a bill on land appropriation has been passed by parliament, the appropriation of plots will take place, the Premier announced.

To make room for the kingdom's burgeoning number of vehicles, new building regulations have also been drawn up allowing developers to build an additional storey and use the ground floor for parking in developments in Bahrain's older areas.

Director of road planning and design at the Ministry of Housing, Huda Fakhroo, said: "The parking conditions are extremely bad in some parts of Bahrain - especially in places like Hoora, the Diplomatic Area and areas of Manama.

"We are even looking at moving the major ministries and their offices from Manama to solve this parking issue."

One of the ministries under the spotlight is the electricity and water near the World Trade Centre. Although some staff parking spaces are available the ministry also attracts a huge number of visitors and neighbouring car parking facilities are often overwhelmed.

According to latest statistics revealed by the Ministry of the Interior, Public Security and the General Directorate of Traffic, almost one in three people in the kingdom own a car.

To combat parking problems the government has produced the 'Standard to Parking Rates for the Kingdom of Bahrain' - a guideline to ensure adequate parking spaces are included in plans. Developers are already being urged to provide multi-storey car parking facilities within new building proposals.

The current metered parking rates are also under revision to see if they could generate additional funding to cover the costs of improvement schemes.

Officials say the parking meter system could be privatised in a bid to increase the number of metered areas to provide orderly street parking spaces that can be monitored and allow appropriate action by the General Directorate of Traffic to be taken against violators such as fines or towing away illegally parked vehicles.

According to the General Directorate of Traffic statistics the number of registered vehicles has doubled in five years.

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