Muscat: Even as Muscat Municipality has launched clean-up operations on a war-footing following the incessant rains, businesses in Muttrah souq are yet to get out of the woods.
“Come rains, we are the worst hit. This time we were just returning to normal business after continuous lockdowns and cyclone Shaheen. The rains have left us in the lurch again”, said Adil Ahmed, owner of a shop selling antique goods.
Even though we get proper alerts from the authorities regarding rains and the likely floods, very often we are unable to remove all items from the shops. Some of them are ruined in the gushing water, he said.
Along with the rainwaters from the nearby mountains and gushing water from the sea enter the market and flood within minutes.
Although the municipal authorities have already started cleansing operations in the souq and the adjoining sea road, owners of the shops said it would take time for normal business.
“This is the time of the year we have good business thanks to the tourist arrivals. Even though the roads and the alleys have mostly been cleared, there are no visitors”, said Firoz Ahmed Abdullah, who owns a carpet shop.
The nearby fish market also wore a deserted look with only a handful of counters.
“There are no arrivals of boats, and so are the customers”, said Mohamed Saleh, who had a small quantity of sardines at his counter on Wednesday morning.
In a statement, the Municipality said it was making all-out efforts to clean the dusty roads and passageways and disposing waste and opening the paths for the accumulated water to flow.
“Great efforts are being made to open the affected roads, remove sand and waste, clean sites, suck up water bodies, spray insecticides, and move fallen trees in many parts of the city,” a statement from the civic body said on Wednesday.
In addition to the weather impacts, the Muttrah souq has been a victim of lockdowns following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. For months, the traditional souq, which is steeped in history and is popular among tourists, was closed along with other commercial establishments.
Muttrah, which is steeped in history and is popular among tourists, will be undergoing massive redevelopment.
The Muscat Municipality, in association with Haya Water, has already initiated a project to give further facelift to the souq. The work is in progress. This includes ramping up services, making it more accessible, more facilities to residents and tourists, addressing the traffic problem and reworking stormwater and sewage systems, among others.
The areas to be covered by the redevelopment plan are Muttrah Souq and surrounding areas, the entire old Muttrah district from Bait Oman to Souq al Lawatia and the stretch from Riyam Park to the roundabout at the entrance of the Port Sultan Qaboos.