BAHRAIN's oldest herbal products factory may have to be shifted after operating for 150 years in the same location in a residential area, it was revealed.
Al Kamel Factory in Al Qadam village needs to be demolished and rebuilt since the last renovation was carried out 37 years ago.
The factory's board, made up of the Al Kamal family, has submitted a request to rebuild it but the decision is likely to be rejected by the Northern Municipality.
They are planning to bring in new equipment, which cannot be accommodated in the current building.
Even though they have a permit to keep the factory at its current location, the municipality is refusing to allow rebuilding it because it was hoping it would relocate from the residential area, claim the owners.
The Northern Municipal Council, however, has backed the factory's request to rebuild.
The decision is now up to Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Minister Ali Al Saleh, since the municipality and the council were divided on the issue.
Council technical committee chairman Juma Al Aswad said the factory was not a health hazard and did not pose any threat to residents.
"It is true that the factory is located in a residential area, but this is an exceptional factory, it is Bahrain's first herbal factory," he said.
"Such factories were all built in residential areas before and keeping them isn't a big deal, considering that residents have no objection on the factory being there."
Mr Al Aswad is the area's councillor and the family owning the factory is from the same village.
Factory chief executive officer Sayed Jalal Al Kamel said the old building would be demolished to make way for a new factory, which will have new facilities and equipment.
"There is a huge demand for our products in Bahrain and other GCC countries and we can't expand with our current factory," he said.
"We have asked the council to give us an urgent permission to demolish and rebuild the factory.
"They promised to help us and they did, but the municipality stopped our request."
Mr Al Kamel said his family had land off the Budaiya Highway four times bigger than that of the current factory area.
"We haven't thought about this before, but if they refuse to give us permission, we will shift our factory project to this land," he said.
"I believe that having the factory there would be better considering it is away from the residential and on a commercial road."
"The problem is that the ministry will take a long time to survey this land, something that will delay our expansion plans."
Mr Al Kamel said his family would rent a temporary office to operate from, while their factory is being demolished and rebuilt.
"The factory is in good financial condition and we will ensure that the new factory gets built as soon as possible, because any delay would affect our productivity," he said.