By Amal Zahid Al-Madina
PEOPLE affected by proposed development projects in Madinah have hoped that their expropriated properties would be possibly released even though no official decisions have been made in this regard until now. I am not exaggerating when I say that there are thousands of people who have been affected, including the elderly, divorcees and widows, waiting to hear a decision that will comfort their hearts and put an end to their extremely long and bitter suffering as a result of delays in implementing the development vision and strategies, as well as the sensitive economic circumstances the country is currently going through, let alone previous chaotic and improvisational plans that the citizens are still paying for, whether psychologically or financially.
I will not talk about the underestimates or the disparities in estimates between various properties, some of which are adjacent, requiring accountability for corruption. Every day spent waiting is an extremely big economic loss that hammers at the savings of victims and exhausts their budgets. As I mentioned earlier, there are many who totally depend on their real estate income for a living, which is under the mercy of expectations and guesses. Only rumors raise their hopes for a better tomorrow, then another rumor comes to make them despair. All this happens while bills keep increasing day after day for the people who are devastated by and worried over the fate of their properties.
I have written several times that with the demolition and removal of real estate in the central area of Madinah, the owners were not compensated a single riyal and their suffering continues to this day. The situation has been at a standstill for a long time. And what is most painful is that some have endowments to support hundreds of eligible people who are still waiting for a breakthrough with the beginning of each new day that could bring crucial relief.
There are still dozens of properties that are also numbered and evacuated, but were not demolished. Their owners were neither compensated nor given the green light to lease or dispose of them.
Two elderly divorcees living on the income of a property belonging to an endowment that was evacuated but not yet demolished. No one knows the endowment’s fate: Will it be taken up for development, or does it fall within the cancellation process? Meanwhile, the two women subsist on debt and the charity of benefactors.
Dozens of painful stories of those affected by this situation require quick intervention and resolve. The authorities must ensure issuance of decisions clarifying the situation to end the suffering of people.
I appeal to the rulers, may Allah save them, and officials in the form of city developers and other stakeholders, for a rapid decision on the issue of development projects and compensation for those affected, and an end to the stagnation afflicting the economic and real estate sectors in Madinah.