Announcement on affordable housing by October-end

MUSCAT, Oct 7 – Affordable housing for citizens is all set to become reality as announcement on the start of work on a new project is expected by this month-end. The ambitious scheme, first-of-its-kind in the Sultanate, will have 1,000 houses on a 350,000-square-metre plot at Barka off the Express Highway. “The project is an integrated residential complex with various recreational and commercial services,” the Supreme Council for Planning (SCP) said in a statement. The government, represented by SCP, has been working with the Ministry of Housing and other stakeholders in supporting and financing middle and low-income families through social housing programmes.

The SCP had called for an ‘Expression of Interest’ from companies with experience in the implementation and management of such projects locally or internationally. The government has been adopting a cluster approach to housing, which is expected to open the door to community-level retail developments to meet the needs of residents. According to the SCP statement, the project will also have integrated complexes where many housing alternatives will be available. “They will have open spaces, well-organised roads and community services which include mosques, healthcare centres, malls, gardens and playgrounds,” said the statement.

Demand for such centres is expected to gain momentum as it will reduce the Ministry of Housing’s waiting list through an organised township policy as part of the new five-year plan. “The project is targeted at young Omanis waiting for land from the government so that they could construct their own houses. The banks will provide a good payment scheme as well,” said an official at the ministry. According to reports, there are more than 500,000 people waiting for housing plots from the Ministry of Housing. “Those who wait for land can either opt for affordable houses or land from the ministry,” said an official.

In the 2018 budget, a sum of RO 80 million has been allocated for the Social Housing Scheme and Housing Aid Programme for eligible citizens.
The appropriations for housing and development loans amount to RO 30 million.

SAMUEL KUTTY