CHARITY bins where people donate second-hand clothes are allegedly being used by Bahraini militants to stash weapons and explosives, it has emerged.
Northern Municipality technical services director Lamya Al Fadhala revealed the concern as she met members of the Northern Municipal Council yesterday.
The news shocked councillors, who had no idea collection boxes were hiding potentially lethal bombs and weapons used by opposition radicals to attack police.
Council members initially raised concerns because of an alleged lack of monitoring.
“We can’t just sit idle while collection boxes for clothes are set up across the nation, without us knowing the exact location of each one and the licensing details with societies,” said Ms Al Fadhala.
“The Interior Ministry has told us its consent was also needed to set up boxes, after several cases were uncovered of boxes being used to stash weapons and explosives between donated clothes.”
Council member Taha Al Junaid proposed new regulations on setting up such collection facilities, based on concerns that the number of donation boxes was mushrooming.
“Boxes are currently being set up randomly,” he said.
“They damage the general look (of an area), block road visibility and lack credibility as they could be genuinely set up by licensed societies or unauthorised groups, who just use the logo and sticker (of a legitimate organisation) as deception.
“We have to introduce a fee system to allow officials concerned to register all such boxes and at the same time ensure violations are not committed.
“The current situation is hectic, with no official locations determined, and the issue is left to the society (that owns the collection box) to handle.
“At the moment we are faced with some societies using bird cages as donation boxes.
“God only knows what will be used next if we don’t take action.”
Fellow councillor Khaled Qambar revealed residents in Hamad Town had destroyed suspicious wooden boxes that had been mysteriously attached to lampposts.
“The irony is that we found some people donated clothes in the wooden boxes, which were fixed to lampposts using a chain and lock,” said Mr Qambar.
“We have to ask ourselves about the quality of the donation itself and whether those clothes are hygienic or not, considering they are used.
“Monitoring such boxes is a step forward.”
Councillor Hamad Al Dossary suggested an approriate distance between collection boxes to ensure charities are not in competition with each other, while council vice-chairman Ahmed Al Kooheji proposed banning charity boxes and instead setting up hotlines through which people could arrange collection of second hand merchandise.
“Those boxes are not benefiting anyone and are contributing to mess rather than helping,” he said.
“Society officials can collect whatever people want to donate based on a phone call.”