QUESTIONS are being asked over a more than four-year delay in a sewage network expansion, which was held up by the discovery of an old underground aqueduct system.
Work was halted when contractors assigned by the government caused extensive damage to the historic water channels in January 2014.
Nearby homes in Al Markh are still waiting to be connected to the sewage network, prompting complaints from the area councillor – who argues it is possible to resume work without further damaging the old aqueducts.
“There are residential blocks in Al Markh that are still without sewage networks because the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (Baca) is not authorising any development in the area, following the discovery of the aqueducts,” said area councillor Fatima Al Qatari.
“We are not against protecting such rich history, which is key to a civilisation that existed in Bahrain.
“But it could be fenced off with work on the sewage network done carefully, without causing any damage."
“The contractor carelessly destroyed a large section of the stretch in Al Markh by refusing to stop work previously, continuing for days despite the discovery – until being forced to halt by the government."
“Work on the sewage network could be done under careful monitoring by all those concerned, without leading to further destruction.”
The aqueducts extend from Ayn Olaiwah, in the village of Al Markh, to Janabiya.
Ms Al Qatari is now hoping to reach a deal that would lead to resumption of the sewage network project.
“I get numerous complaints from Al Markh residents demanding I step in and here I am offering a deal between those concerned that makes everyone happy,” she said.
She proposed re-routing the sewage network, but urged authorities to first conduct investigations in other nearby villages to determine if there were other sites of archaeological importance.
“Using modern technologies, other aqueducts could be located before they get damaged,” she said.
“But they will need huge sums of money for preservation, which the government will have to allocate."
“We have testimonies from elders in nearby villages that the aqueducts date back 100 years, but they don’t state the length of the channels so they could extend to the Arabian Gulf or Tubli Bay.”
The GDN reported in 2003 that a section of the aqueduct system had been discovered in the same village.
At the time authorities pledged to preserve the site, but only the natural water spring was protected.
Officials from the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry and Baca could not be reached for comment yesterday.