Saturday, November 26, 2005

Surrounded by idiots, part II

We finalized our house plans in May. Got the building permit in July. Floated a tender in August. Found a contractor, agreed on price, and signed a contract in September. And decided on a project start date of November 8th, 2005. The first step of the building process is for the contractor to go to the municipality and request for the handover of the land's markings (تسليم العلائم). This is a simple procedure where somene from the Ministry of Housing goes to the building site with the contractor and shows him the exact boundaries of the plot and makes him sign off on it to ensure that he doesn't build beyond the boundary. The paper is then endorsed at the local municipality. It sounds all quick and easy, right?

First of all the ministry said that they were too busy because of the large number of applicants and gave us an appointment one month from the date of application (We applied September 15th). No problem says I, since the construction won't start till after eid. The date came and went. I called my architect to ask what's happening and he says "oh you have a problem, one of your neighbors has built outside his bounds and now the ministry won't handover your markrings".

So I went to the municipality myself and took the engineer to the site and he showed me exactly what's happened. There's only one built house in the whole row of empty plots and its built wrong. It's 1 meter out of bounds in the back and 50 centimeters on the side. It sounded like a very simple thing to me. The guy has illegaly taken land which is not his so force him to tear down his boundary wall and rebuild it within the bounds of his land. Simple, no? The guys in the planning and survey department in the Ministry of Housing tell me that it isn't as simple as that. In fact if they were to order that it might take months. What do I care, says I. He hasn't built into the boundaries of my land. Give me permission to start building and in the meantime you can take as long as you want to make the guy break his walls. No, no, they say. It's simpler to just push the boundaries of all the plots on the left of that house by 50cm. How long will that take, I ask. Oh no time at all, we already have the new plan plotted out and all we need is approval from the head of the department. Two days the say.

That was around October 26th. Since then I've been going to the Ministry of Housing at least once or twice a week and those two days have been stretching forever. On the last day before the eid holiday they said the planning engineer wants to go to the site himself before he signs off on the new plan. Three days after the eid holiday they said that they were done. A week later I go to the department to ask if they're approved it and the dude says: we're almost done with the new plans.

- Hold on.. you told me 2 weeks ago that the plans were already done.
- Oh no I didn't, he says, why would I say they were done when they're not.
- Not only did you tell me they were done, you even showed them to me on the screen, I tell him. And he just looks at me full of contempt.

Finally they were done with the planning on November 15th. Cool. Now we can build?
-No, we're done with them here in the planning dept, but now they have to go a committe that meets every Wednesday and they have to approve them. Once they approve they have go to another department that will make the site plan (krooky) for you.
-OK, today's Tuesday, does that mean tomorrow's committee would look into our issue?

-Nope, we didn't put up your matter for tomorrow's committee.
-Next week then?
-Well we don't know if they'll have any backlog before your thing, and anyhow it's not our job to schedule that.. go to to the committee's secretary.
-Right, so let's say I talk to the dude and get the committee to look into this and approve it, how long realistically till I have a new site plan. Is it possible it might take another month there?
-Well they are quite busy there too...


A. Woman in black said...

Ahhhhhhhhhh !

I am soo feeling you .... totally believe it and empathize with you guys.

I have sooooooooooooo learned patience since being here, everytime something "official" needs to be done I know that its gonna take more than one try, or day , or month (lol) for that matter.

I am in awe when things actually go smoothly.

Kamakazy said...

yup, sounds like a typical mini-story from the ministry to me...

its expected, they always depend on other ppl, they are very good in putting the blame on others and they will direct you to different ppl till you reach a dead end...

PizzaQueen said...

lol Musca you are funny

illogicist said...

This is what happens when you're not allowed to have your ass handed to you on a platter.

Sorry to hear that Muscati - if that bastard had not been such an idiot to start with, for sure you wouldn't be in this mess.

AtGm said...

The funny part of all this, that the person who made this whole thing happen in the first place, isnt even bothered about it. How about paying a visit to that house owner and let him/her take a share of your day.

Seriously though, the contractor who built that house or whoever is responsible for making that mistake should be charged and penalized for creating such hassle.

All the best and for sure patience must be your best friend with all this...

DevilishAngel said...

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

I'll tell you why: the municipality will soon automate this whole process, hopefully making it faster, and easier. I don't think I can say any more about this since its still off the record, but I can safely state that the whole building permit process and all its related jargons will be soon be computerized.


So, maybe when your son decides to build a house, the process will be much simpler :P

muscati said...

DevilishAngel - This issue has nothing to do with the Municipality. Getting the building permit was quite painless. I had heard so many nightmare stories from people that that it takes month to get one. But ours was approved quite quickly and I never had to follow up. The architect did it all for me.

The real nightmare is the Ministry of Housing. And that's where you can't even send your contractor to follow up and nothing gets done.

DevilishAngel said...

Oopthi! I'm SO sorry, totally my bad, I skimmed thru the whole thing and got the "main picture" and assumed u were complaining abt the Municipality since it was building-related. Nevertheles, fyi, its a domino effect with this whole e-government business...the Ministry of Housing is in the pipeline for the same :) Most of the ministries are currently undergoing automation, so yeah, when your son decides to build....