Razing an issue


ABANDONED buildings dot cities all over the Kingdom and these structures can pose a security when they are used for illegal purposes. Used by undocumented workers, terrorists, drug dealers and criminals, experts have urged the government to tear down derelict buildings as a means of upholding national security, Al-Riyadh daily reports.

While the reasons behind owners abandoning buildings vary from inheritance disputes, inability to complete construction or carry out extensive renovations in the case of old buildings, experts say municipal officials should, regardless of the status of the building, take necessary actions and tear down derelict, abandoned buildings that have long been neglected.

Moreover, experts argue that the chief of each district within the city must keep a close eye on abandoned buildings and ensure they are not being used for terrorist or criminal activities. Any suspicious activities inside or near the buildings should be reported to authorities immediately because the lives of people living in the district may be in danger.

Dr. Yousef Al-Rumaih, a criminology professor at Al-Qassim University, warned against the dangers of leaving abandoned buildings unwatched. He said abandoned buildings are the favorite hideouts for criminals, perverts and terrorists. In fact, they also pose environmental dangers due to accumulation of garbage and infestation of rodents and insects.

“The owners of abandoned buildings should cooperate with security authorities and report these buildings so that authorities can take necessary measures. If an abandoned building turns out to be used by a criminal or a terrorist, the building owner will be held responsible. I have read several stories about heinous crimes that were committed inside abandoned buildings and the corpses of the victims were left there for weeks and sometimes months before authorities discovered them,” he explained.

Umm Fahd Al-Oraini lives at Al-Naseem neighborhood in Riyadh. Next to her house lies a building that was abandoned by the owner several years ago. She says residents avoid the building and want officials to take action.

“This building is really an eyesore and has been neglected for years. I do not think the concerned authorities have any idea about it. People of the neighborhood tend not to walk by it in the night and do not let their children get close to it day or night. It is completely unsafe and nobody knows if it is used by criminals,” she said.

Musaad Al-Hameed lives in an East Riyadh neighborhood in a house located next to an abandoned building that is used by expatriates as a makeshift warehouse. Al-Hameed and other residents of the neighborhood have filed several complaints with the concerned authorities asking them to demolish the building, which was deserted by its owner over ten years ago. But their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“No official action has been taken so far. I am scared for my family as we don’t know who the people using the building are. It’s gotten so bad that I’m seriously thinking about selling my home and moving to another neighborhood where no abandoned buildings exist,” he said.


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