A housing project in Makkah has not been completed 20 years after work on it started. The completion of the Rusaifah project, located not far from the Grand Mosque, would help reduce the severe housing problem suffered by the locals, especially after more than 1,000 tenants were evicted to make way for development work in the central zone of the holy city, a real estate expert said. The construction cost for the project will exceed its original estimate, according to experts, because a considerable part of the infrastructure such as electricity wiring and water and sewage pipes have been stolen or damaged due to lack of maintenance. Citizens who are waiting for their turn to be allocated housing have complained about the delays to the project. Pointing out that the incomplete houses have been damaged by disuse and the long exposure to harsh weather conditions, they demanded renovation of the project, including the infrastructure. The Makkah District Council says that it forwarded its recommendation to the Ministry of Finance to complete the project quickly because only plastering and other finishing touches on the houses remained. “We made the recommendation three years ago when the Ministry of Finance was taking care of the housing sector. But later a separate ministry was set up for the housing sector and the Rusaifah project also falls under it. The delayed project has wasted lots of national resources,” Al-Eqtisadiah daily quoted Basheet Al-Matrafi, former deputy president of the council, as saying. He said many proposals were submitted to the new ministry, such as the government taking over completion of the project and then distributing homes to eligible citizens or handing responsibility over to the private sector. Another option is to distribute the homes to individuals so that they might complete the furnishing and other remaining work, he said. Real estate businessman Salim Al-Matrafi said no housing project, especially one close to the Grand Mosque, should have been neglected in this manner. “Its completion could have eased the housing problem faced by the thousands of tenants evicted for development projects in Makkah over the past few years,” he said.