The efficacy of late warnings and other governmental machinations to get at citizens’ pockets

6 Apr, '17

In Bahrain, the citizen seems to be the unquenchable fount of money. Funds which most here are in desperate need of, are dragged out of our pockets by unremitting fines, fees and other government charges and levies.

Last month, the Traffic Dept had its fun by sending us speeding fines that were more than a year old! Proving that what they’re interested in is the meagre contents of our pockets rathe than serve as a warning to reduce speed and follow the rules of the road. Honestly, what good does a late warning serve? It’s like shouting “look out” after the pedestrian’s been knocked out by a car. Some would say that regardless of the timeliness of the fine, it does serve a purpose to deter people from abusing the system and toe the line of the law. Yes, that’s true, but its purpose is moot. A warning should be delivered immediately in order to correct a wrong faster, rather than in retrospect.

This week, it seems that the municipalities are at it by serving warning notices to many houses in Isa Town (as a start?) to apparently warning them to remove the tiny beautiful gardens, or planting patches really, which grace the front of many homes in Bahrain. They have been summoned to appear at the municipality where many think that they will be fined, or told to remove those planting patches, some of which are decades old.

Look, I understand that these patches sometimes take over pavements or walkways. If they are indeed restrictive to people’s movements, then by all means, get them removed. But my suggestion is to be consistent in applying the law. That should also go for people who’ve put up car port shades, built illegal annexes to their properties etc. Go for it. But don’t single out homeowners because they wanted to beautify their neighbourhoods. I’d rather create a competition and reward innovative plantings than penalise them.

What I think will happen now, is that the municipalities won’t care about these factors, what they will do is try to fill the void that financial restrictions might have eaten a chunk off their budgets, but levying fees and fines whenever they like and for whichever infraction they can conjure up. The citizen ultimately will be the loser.

The attached video provides ample proof of how the average Bahraini citizen feels about these situations.

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