Okeshiya development hit by delay of services

Land prices fall sharply as municipality chokes new construction


Okaz/Saudi Gazette

MAKKAH — Despite many pledges by local authorities to develop Okeshiya and its surrounding areas, the district in the holy city of Makkah remains undeveloped. It lacks asphalted streets, a proper sewage network, electricity and other utilities.

“Owners of properties in Okeshiya do not know what to do after the municipality's promises to develop the area disappeared in thin air,” said Hamoud Al-Maqati, a resident of the neighborhood.

The municipality has stopped issuing licenses for building new houses in the area until development works are completed.

“We hoped that the municipality would asphalt the streets because they had invited tenders for the work but it did not happen,” he told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

Al-Maqati received a plot in the district seven years ago as part of a land grant.

Maalli Al-Sulami, who owns properties in Okeshiya, said he had been waiting for basic services since 1432 AH. He purchased the land for SR500,000 after the municipality announced its plan to develop the area.

“The municipality stopped issuing construction licenses, complicating the issue further,” Al-Sulami said, adding that land prices in the area declined sharply. His plot is now worth only SR150,000, Al-Sulami added.

Awad Al-Zahrani said the new town plan for Okeshiya was prepared about 15 years ago but “we don’t see any construction work or investment projects in the area due to a lack of power supply, which is essential of any development to take place.”

Abdulhadi Al-Salim drew attention to the unpaved streets and unlighted streets. “The municipality’s cleaning service is so poor we can see garbage accumulated along the streets,” he added.

The absence of traffic police has caused several deadly accidents in the area.

Abdul Rahman Al-Hejaji said Okeshiya lacked drinking water and sewage networks, despite the presence of several investment projects including Saudi-German Hospital, a vocational institute and a gas station.

“Lack of basic facilities and services has affected Okeshiya’s progress,” he added.

The Housing Ministry is unable to carry out its low-cost housing project for the limited income people as a high voltage electricity line passes by the site. The construction of a ring road has obstructed the project.

The ministry has urged the municipality to issue license for implementing the project. The municipality has allocated 7 million square meters of land in Okeshiya for the housing project.

Osama Zaytooni, spokesman for the municipality, said his organization handed over plots to the Housing Ministry to implement the project. “We have stopped all construction permissions temporarily until the development works are completed,” he added.

Saudi Electricity Company said it wanted to provide dependable services to its customers. “We wanted to remove all obstacles facing attempts to provide new electricity connections,” it added.

“We will connect Okeshiya to Wali Al-Ahd2 station, which will become operational by the end of 2018,” SEC said. The company intends to provide a bouquet of new services to its customers in the area.