The Central Municipal Council (CMC), the country’s first elected body, has urged the authorities concerned not to remove small neighbourhood stores from residential areas across the country for 10 years.
The Council wants the government to provide alternative premises to the shop owners during this 10-year-period as well as pay due compensation to them.
The CMC discussed the issue threadbare recently and forwarded its recommendations to the authorities concerned.
“Yes, we don’t want the small grocery stores existing in the residential localities for at least five years,” said Saeed Ali Al Marri, who represents Mesaieed in the CMC.
The main beneficiaries of these small outlets are low-income citizens. Licences for these stores were given to them to help them supplement their limited income, Al Marri told The Peninsula yesterday.
If these stores are to be removed, the owners should be given alternative premises. “This is one of our major recommendations,” he said.
But a former member of the CMC, Ahmed Ibrahim Al Sheeb, described the move to remove the provision stores from residential areas as “imprudent” and one which would “put residents to great inconvenience”. He told this newspaper that in his town, Umm Salal Mohamed, there is only one supermarket, so there is a queue of customers at any given time during the day and even late in the evenings to buy provisions.
“The situation being this, we, in fact, need more provision stores rather than removing the existing one,” said Al Sheeb. “If there was a branch of Al Mira cooperative store in our midst, we wouldn’t be suffering, but there is none,” he said.
According to him, if at all the stores are to be removed from residential localities, their owners should be given alternative premises as well as monetary compensation as the orange-and-white taxi licence owners were a few years ago.
The authorities concerned had first announced July 5 this year as the deadline for removing the neighbourhood stores. They later extended it by a year.
Nearly all small stores in residential areas are mostly run by expatriates on a profit sharing basis with their Qatari owners.
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