BAHRAIN’s first municipal one-stop centre, offering various government services under one roof, has opened in Isa Town.
It is called Counter and means people in the Southern Governorate no longer have to visit multiple offices to complete official paperwork.
The facility was opened at the Southern Municipality offices in Isa Town yesterday by Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry Municipal Affairs Under-Secretary Dr Nabeel Abu Al Fateh.
There are now plans to set up similar centres for people in Bahrain’s three other governorates.
“We have to consider the future and providing services in the fastest and most efficient way possible,” said Dr Abu Al Fateh.
“The ministry is already offering services online, but there are several cases that require a visit to municipality departments concerned and approvals from other ministries and government bodies.
“Our new centre provides separate counters for each municipal department, besides a special counter responsible for liaising with different ministries to obtain required approvals.
“There is no waiting or effort, as people go to a single counter for particular permits instead of visiting offices spread around their area’s municipality, or go from one place to another without a clue.”
The Counter was established at a cost of BD10,000 and is located in the former premises of the Central Municipal Council, which was dissolved in 2014.
Similar offices are now set to spring up in other areas of the country.
“We are planning to expand across Bahrain’s three other governorates in swift phases,” added Dr Abu Al Fateh.
The Counter will register grievances, respond to queries, issue permits for building and municipal services, receive requests for inspections and monitoring, as well as accept payments for municipal transactions.
“We are still working on special sections for the elderly and people with disabilities, but special car parks have already been allocated,” said Dr Abu Al Fateh.
Southern Municipality director general Assem Abdullatif, who spearheaded the project, said Counter staff had been trained in handling difficult situations involving the public.
“We started training our employees on how to accept people’s requests and complaints – and we even had visual tests on how to handle even the most complex of cases,” he said.
“When we were sure we were ready to go, we started working on the centre in co-ordination with Minister Essam Khalaf and Dr Abu Al Fateh.
“We are planning to expand the services it provides even further, besides rolling it out elsewhere.
“People’s feedback will certainly help us improve, as we are just taking the first steps.”
Southern Municipal Council acting chairman Isa Al Dossary praised the speed at which the project had been established.
“It was just an idea a few months ago and now it is a fully fledged centre making people’s lives easier,” he said.
Council financial, administrative and legislative committee chairman Mohammed Al Khal said the location was ideal, since it was situated in the heart of the Southern Governorate and in its most populated area.
“The centre is close to most people, who will no longer have to drive around for days (to complete government paperwork),” he said.
“Now it only takes a maximum of three days (in the most complex cases) to get things done.”