Tallest tower plan delayed
By MOHAMMED AL A' ALI
AN outdated impact assessment study has been blamed for delays in approving a BD100 million project to build Bahrain's tallest tower.
Permission to build the 72-storey tower in the Seef District was stalled yesterday when it emerged the project was based on a 2005 plan.
The Manama Municipal Council had granted initial approval to the development, which is being pioneered by the Al Khaleej Development Company (Tameer).
However, it is now likely to ask the developers to present an up-to-date impact assessment before giving it the final approval.
Councillor Hameed Al Basri claimed the council's technical committee failed to properly review the project.
Technical committee chairman Abdulmajeed Al Sebea'a yesterday admitted that he didn't realise it was based on 2005 plans and agreed the project should be put on hold.
"Councillors shouldn't have approved the new project without a proper study being done by a professional consultant," said Mr Al Basri, who is also the area councillor.
"The technical committee has not revised Tameer's plan properly, because if it had, it would have known that it was done in 2005 and that things have changed significantly since then.
"During the council meeting, when the vote to approve the project was taken, towns and villages development committee chairman Sadiq Rahma and I raised objections on the Work Ministry's traffic study, but councillors didn't listen.
"The study states that the current road needs expanding for the project not to cause any trouble to people in the area, but what solutions does it have - none.
"They say that the only solution is to take space from Seef Mall's car parks or the mall itself to make the road into two lanes, something that everyone knows is impossible."
Mr Al Basri, who is also a member of the technical committee, was in the US during discussions on the project.
However, he said Tameer's study was based on inaccurate data.
"The study says the project would have 104 residential apartments, but in reality - and after doing calculations - it would have 1,538 apartments," he said.
"The study says the traffic increase in the area after construction would be just 21.2 per cent, which is completely wrong.
"It is illogical that cars in the area would just increase from 447 to 542 during peak hours."
Mr Al Basri said the new tower has 800 car parks, but around 1,658 would be needed if the tower's shops and offices are also added.
"Where would the cars of those coming to the tower be parked?
"How will they reach the place if it has no proper roads?"
He said he was surprised the council gave the project the initial go-ahead.
"The study says there are no effective solutions to the traffic congestion problem associated with the project or the area and we are here making things worse by approving the project," he said.
"Who will pay to solve the problems associated with the new tower?"
The issue will now be discussed at a council meeting on Wednesday.
Bahrain's current tallest towers are located at the Bahrain Financial Harbour.