Drive against abandoned houses in Muscat

Muscat: The Muscat Municipality has started a campaign against abandoned homes that may pose serious health and social challenges in neighbourhood. A statement from the municipality said that abandoned homes negatively affect the image of cities and their residential neighbourhoods, besides posing other health and safety risks such as probable collapse of concrete slabs, insects, rodents and stray animals that take shelter inside these structures. The municipality said it has been taking action against these violations, including legal procedures, and supervising the removal and demolition of abandoned houses and buildings.

Homes are abandoned or the construction is left incomplete by owners for various reasons, said the statement. Abandoned houses cause many problems as they offer a safe haven for stray animals, insects and rodents, unwanted harmful plants and others. Unpleasant odour from the accumulation of waste in abandoned homes can cause concerns or psychological discomfort to residents. The municipality said it has made extensive efforts to monitor abandoned houses in various locations. A total of 52 abandoned houses were demolished in Muttrah and other parts of Muscat.

“The unused homes or apartments are often misused by anti-social elements for purposes that pose dangers to other residents of the locality, especially women and children,” said Abdullah Saleh, a resident of Muttrah. He said owners of such plots should be made accountable and plots should be made available for useful or commercial activities.

It will carry out a number of measures to eliminate this problem, including field visits to identify abandoned houses, and verify their ownership documents. “The municipality will publish in the official gazette for two weeks, urging owners of these houses to carry out necessary maintenance work.” As per law, all old or unused buildings should be surrounded by a wall or a fence. The municipality has the right to warn owners to remove them and clean the sites completely or remove them through an administrative decision, with the costs recovered from the parties.

Vinod Nair