No warehouses, workshops in residential areas

MUSCAT, May 1 – Muscat Municipality has warned against setting up warehouses or commercial workshops in residential neighbourhoods. According to a senior official at the municipality, citizens have been complaining that the existence of warehouses have been affecting the quality of life in their areas. “The municipal authorities in cooperation with the Ministry of Housing will check the title deeds of those properties to ascertain the purpose for which the land has been registered,” said Khalid al Rahbi, Director of Urban Inspection Department. He said that the municipality will not allow any kind of industrial activity in residential areas. “The authorities will take all necessary steps to ensure that building owners comply with the law,” he said.

According to the official, zoning restrictions have already been made to avoid nuisance by providing distinct areas for certain types of development and use. Article 115 of the civic law does not allow establishment of workshops and factories or crushers and also sale of construction materials in residential areas that cause nuisance and inconvenience to the public. “The properties must be used for the purpose for which they have been registered under the building permit,” stipulates the law. Warehouses in the middle of residential neighbourhoods harm residents. Owners of such warehouses tend to bring in trucks to transport their goods, which delay traffic within the neighbourhoods.

Due to the presence of stores and workshops in residential areas, heavy-duty trucks and other commercial vehicles enter the area hindering traffic movement and pollution. Stores are also a source for insects, rodents and stray animals due to storage operations, apart from emerging as a potential threat for fire hazards. A couple of years ago, Muscat Municipality allowed use of residential buildings for commercial purposes as part of its initiatives to help businesses make more revenues without inconveniencing residents. The notification then allowed buildings located on the streets of Old Muttrah area to be used for commercial purposes for its trade and tourism nature and existence of the souq.

The commercial activities included kindergartens and nurseries, institutes and related activities for people with special needs, private schools and Quran learning centres and embassies and diplomatic missions, except consulates of countries that have large communities residing in the Sultanate. At the same time, any unauthorised change in buildings can lead to lack of fire exits and non-adherence to health and safety requirements in terms of ventilation and lighting. According to Muscat Municipality Building Regulation Act, no alteration is allowed in the approved permit, drawings or any other official document unless prior approval is obtained from the department concerned. “No alterations shall be endorsed unless signed and stamped by the department that issued the permit or the document,” says Article 103 of the Act.