MANAMA: One of Bahrain's most popular seafronts is finally set to undergo a major facelift after two years of delays. Work to clear-up the coastline along the Al Fateh Corniche, build a new walkway and instal playground facilities is expected to begin by the end of the year.
A shortage of funds delayed the BD1.2 million project, which was due to have begun in July 2010.
"A contractor is currently working to clear up the coast to allow us to instal playground equipment, build a walkway and connect it with existing facilities as well as beautify the place with trees and other plantations," said Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry joint municipal services Under-Secretary Mohammed Noor Al Shaikh.
"We are just waiting for the budget to be officially assigned to begin work on the project as artist's impressions have been completed a long time ago and even modified."
The Manama Municipal Council earlier instructed the municipality to offer parts of the corniche in the second phase for investment to help generate income for the project, which will be carried out in an area of 153,430-square metres.
It will feature recreational and family areas as well as restaurants and coffee shops.
Mr Al Shaikh said the second phase would involve all private recreational and commercial facilities on the coast being removed, with those with long-term contracts being moved last.
"New facilities that will replace the ones we are planning to knock down will be constructed at the front of the corniche to allow people to enjoy coastal views without having to acquire any private service," he said.
"The new buildings will be constructed by investors, who will have to present us with ideas on their projects.
"We may allow some sheesha cafes to reopen at the corniche whereas now there are around seven outlets providing that service - the ministry wants to have a range of services on offer."
Work was delayed by a shortage of funds and the fact the deeds for the corniche's 1km coastline were not registered with the ministry.
However, the Royal Court has transferred the deed to the ministry and a timeframe for the start of the project has been put.
The area is part of a 4km public beach project and includes a 3km coastline from near Isa Cultural Centre to the Prince Khalifa Bridge.
The beach will start from the centre, cross around Juffair and pass the Bahrain Specialist Hospital, before ending at the bridge.
Mr Al Shaikh said the third phase of the project, which was still only a proposal, would see a jetty being built at either end of the corniche.
"We have already opened a temporary jetty for Hoora and Gudaibiya residents behind Funland, which will possibly be made permanent," he said.
"Another will be built for Juffair residents behind the Bahrain Specialist Hospital, but we are still waiting for private land to be reclaimed there so we can shape our land.
"Both jetties will be open to the public for amateur fishing and maritime sports."