One of the most pleasurable things my wife and I do while on holiday is walk!
I know, sounds so mundane doesn’t it? But we love it. We walk, we talk we watch people, observe the surroundings, interact with the locals, or just join hands and silently amble. Walking, we’ve discovered, is one of the best ways to know the locality we’re visiting.
These walks last anything from as little as half an hour to hours on end but almost always don’t have a predetermined route. We look around and let our legs carry us to a destination. Yesterday we did just that. We went to downtown Victoria, found a walkway at the harbour and struck off. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the path carried us along the harbour to the Blue Street Bridge from which we observed that the path carries through to the very end of the inner harbour! We estimated the distance to be around 3 kilometers long so it was shaping to be an excellent walk!
My friends, let me say this again, this is a constructed path for the PUBLIC. It snakes its way at the edge of the shore and rocks of the harbour. Very high end apartments, condominiums and town houses are packed on one side of the path – some of which I’m told are worth over a million dollars – and water is on the other. While there, tens of people were walking together, jogging, walking their dogs or simply sitting on one of the many benches or on the rocks talking, laughing, communicating with each other. Frances and I were in heaven! Beautiful location, beautiful people and very beautiful weather.
Coming home, I traced the route on Google Earth:
According to Google Earth, the path we took was 3.23 kilometers long and is marked with the white line with red dots on the map above. We spent a lovely period of 3 or 4 hours walking to the end, and of course walking back. A good afternoon’s exercise of over 6 kilometers. Beautiful.
I can’t help but wonder why we don’t have such a thing in Bahrain? With a country which is a collection of over 30 islands, shouldn’t we at least be able to have a properly prepared and constructed walkway along the shore of those islands for us to enjoy when we can?
Why is it that the only development we get along the shore is those which essentially adversely impact the environment, some irretrievably so? No sooner than one such project falters, another is announced and yet, none offer public access – other than Diyar Al-Muharraq which publicly announced public access walkways and beaches, but that is very much in the future.
The damning things about these developments in Bahrain is that the public are never consulted. No hearings take place. Unlike the situation in Victoria where the public is consulted for just about everything. A developer submitted an application for building a high class marina and development within the inner harbour, that immediately was placed online and placards were posted at the location of the proposed development announcing where the public might get more information and the dates of public hearings. These applications could take a long time. I understand this marina project was tabled in 2000 and it’s still under review with active public opposition, one of whom displayed his objection in a very innovative way near where the marina was proposed, as you could see from the picture on the right.
If there is such a process in Bahrain, I’d like to know about it. Because I couldn’t remember seeing any public consultation notices about any of the mega-developments in Bahrain. I think it’s high time that we get involved in this. We can’t really do any worse than the chaos we have at the moment with everything from road systems through to the hodgepodge we see in Juffair and other places. No regard is given for access, emergency services or public access. Or even simple pavements we can safely walk on when not being used as impromptu car parks!
Let me leave you with some of the pictures I took yesterday for you to get the feeling of what I’m talking about. Call this inspiration, if you would.