COUNCILLORS have been warned to stop threatening to tear up the contract of a businessman behind one of Bahrain's biggest parks unless he lowers the cost of its rides.
The Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry has stepped into the row about the BD6 million Prince Khalifa bin Salman Park in Hidd, saying the charges were in line with international standards.
It came after the Muharraq Municipal Council demanded action, claiming it had been bombarded with complaints from parents about the price of its attractions, some of which cost BD3 for 15 minutes.
Ministry joint municipal services assistant Under-Secretary Mohammed Noor Al Shaikh said a study showed the prices were in line with those in neighbouring countries offering the same services.
"We have to make one thing clear, that admission to the park is free, most of the rides are free and it is just some attractions that need people to pay because they are additional facilities within the park utilised as investments," he said.
"Honestly, the prices of rides offered as investments are reasonable and are in line with neighbouring GCC countries and even cheaper than international market prices.
"The ministry can easily push for the prices to be lowered, but the businessman will ask us to reduce our lease rate and that will mean a loss to everyone in the long run and a drop in the quality of the park's services."
Mr Al Shaikh said the park's status was continuously being revised to ensure it remained fair to the public.
"As said, the park's rides are offered at reasonable prices, but that doesn't mean that we don't have continuous meetings with the businessman to determine the best way of handling the park and amongst them are promotions," he said.
Hidd councillor Ramzy Al Galaleef earlier revealed the businessman, who was awarded a 30-year lease, had been told to comply with price reduction demands or risk having his contract terminated.
He explained part of the problem was that the investor had leased out the facilities to sub-contractors and other small investors.
"I spoke with the businessman after the the council's threat to tear up the contract when he called to explain things and from the talks I found that the pay-rides can't go lower," said Mr Al Galaleef.
"The rides are offered for more in other parts of Bahrain, for example, the ferry service is double the price in the Marina Club and the bicycles can't be rented for less than the same price because cyclists tend to damage them and return them in an appalling condition that requires regular exchange or spare part replacement most of the time.
"When we raised the issue about the two services in June the investors handling both threatened to cancel their contract and leave saying that any other price would mean a huge loss.
"Let's say that we have to cater to the needs of everyone and for that if prices are not to be lowered then promotions have to be done - packages or free meals depending on agreements amongst investors in the park."
The park, on the Khalifa bin Salman Causeway, was opened by Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa to coincide with last year's National Day celebrations and is aimed to beautify the country and introduce more recreational facilities for families.
It features a 300-metre walkway as well as a shopping area for visitors, an artificial lake inside for boating, a jet ski station, a skating rink and a bicycle track.
Other facilities include a viewing tower hosting a restaurant, which offers a panoramic view of the open sea and Bahrain's skyline.
The businessman involved in the project could not be reached for comment.