October 27, 2020

Bahrain ban on new public parks

Bahrain

A Ban on new public parks and gardens has been imposed in Manama.

However, many existing family recreation facilities will be developed to include walkways, sports pitches and indoor sports courts.

The decision was taken yesterday by the Capital Trustees Board, which says it will prevent millions of dinars being wasted on unnecessary  projects.

It also wants the private sector to get involved by investing in new leisure facilities, instead of the government shouldering the financial burden.

The decision was taken as Bahrain looks to cut public spending due to low oil prices, which have prompted significant government cutbacks.

“We have around 10 public parks and gardens all located less than 3km away from each other,” said board chairman Mohammed Al Khozaae.

“Like in Hoora, Gudaibiya, Segaiya and Adliya offering the same children’s rides and facilities.

“There are around 10 more in Jid Ali, Jirdab, Sanad, Tubli and surrounding villages that no-one knows about and are only visited on rare occasions.

“It is good that the government wants to spend on public projects, but there are already more facilities available than are needed.

“It shows huge overspending and the disaster we want to avert is more following the same pattern of borrowing to pay for more.

“Keeping gardens and parks green, while carrying out regular maintenance and securing locations through a private firm, costs the government a lot of money and resources, which are needed elsewhere.”

The Capital Trustees Board ordered the Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry to halt all work on plans for new public parks or gardens in Manama.

Mr Al Khozaae added that instead of parks and gardens, people wanted recreation facilities that could be established through private investment.

“There is demand for football pitches, indoor sports and walkways, which could be incorporated at existing facilities rather than searching for empty government plots and engaging in a tug-of-war with other government bodies to get them,” he said.

“We understand that slumping oil prices make it difficult (for the government) to build new projects.

“It is impossible to ask the government to build new facilities, when minor revamps would be cheaper.

“Land left empty instead of having parks built on it could be offered to investors for proper family recreational projects that are in demand – like bowling, snooker, ice-skating, water parks, theme parks or any other thing that is new and innovative.”

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