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January 2019, No. 90


Appointment

Ten Commandments of the New Tehran Mayor


First urgency is the completion of Lines 6 and 7 of the subway.


Some observers say that the lineup was the outcome of a coalition between the stream of state capitalism and political tribes against the idea of a free and competitive economy. The newly elected mayor is subject to serious harms from this lineup despite his professional spirit and scientific reputation. Because the pressures coming out of the superiority of this kind of outlook, in addition to the external challenges could face the new mayor with domestic issues as well.

Pirouz Hanachi, the new mayor of the capital city, is a person who has served at least one term in the field of urban policymaking as secretary of the Supreme Council for Urban Development. Over the past year too, he has served as deputy mayor of Tehran in two domains. The capital’s 18th mayor is believed to be a tough critic of Tehran Municipality policies during the past 12 years. Hence, in the course of two nominations for Tehran Municipality (spring and autumn 97), he had cited two elements of diversion in urban management: The capital city being turned into the largest construction site; and the city of drivers.

Interestingly, the content of these two programs, which were presented to the City Council in the last two elections of Tehran Municipality has been formulated around these two perspectives. He is the person who, at the opening of the Sadr two-story highway, pointed to the experience of the developed metropolises of the world, published the result of a study which indicated that for many years in the developed cities, mayors would not build expressways and tunnels to increase the traffic of private cars. Instead, they destroy two-story bridges and highways and turn them into public green spaces for the development of public transport and public spaces.

What Hanachi has formulated for the city of Tehran over the years remaining from this term of urban management under the slogan “A City for All” and presented to the City Council as its plan of action can be categorized in the form of 10 key policies. But what are more important than the 10 policies cited in the new mayor’s plans are the urgencies of the capital city in order to improve the quality of life of citizens. Of course some of these policies and urgencies are interconnected which, from the point of view of urban experts and along with the policies developed, should be urgently put on the agenda of urban management. According to urban experts, the capital city’s urban administration should put eight major urgent issues on its agenda.

First urgency is the completion of Lines 6 and 7 of the subway. The Metro Line 7 was once opened under the former city management, but with the new urban management team taking over, the results of new surveys on the completion of equipment on this subway line led to its closure. During the recent term, part of Line 7 has been re-opened and is operational, but it is still incomplete. Meanwhile, subway Line 6 is still incomplete despite strong resolve to inaugurate it.

Studies show that the Municipality’s failure to provide the least needed budget (less than 1,000 billion rials) in recent months was the main reason for the delay in opening Line 6. Hence, urban experts maintain that the new mayor of the capital city should decide the fate of these two lines as soon as possible. A large number of underground workshops on Line 7 have been shut down and this has sparked numerous reactions from citizens to urban management for abandoning unfinished projects.

The second urgency for the Municipality is to be on the alert about winter rain and snowfall and create a different situation to cope with the traffic and air pollution. In this context, experts suggest that urban management should, on the one hand, make coordination with the parallel centers and administrations in order to mobilize the dispersed forces to put them on the alert; on the other hand, the urban management should take special measures and offer special services in the streets and passageways to reduce the damages caused by winter rain and snowfall.

The third urgency for the Municipality is to engage the private sector in attracting capital as well as improving urban affairs. Over the past year, the urban management held two meetings with members of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture to use the private sector’s involvement in promoting incomplete projects such as subway and public bus service; but so far they have not been able to attract private sector investment in urban projects.

The fourth opportunity is to use the capital market to provide resources and income. The issuance of promissory notes, the issuance of notes for the completion of fixed sites, asset management bonds and transfer of shares of companies and organizations operating under the Municipality are among the areas the new mayor can use to generate revenues and new financial resources.

At the same time, city experts propose that the new mayor of Tehran consider “informal and practical interaction” with the government as the fifth urgency. From their point of view, although the easiest way to interact with the government is to get cash resources it is the hardest job. According to them, the smartest way to establish an effective and constructive interaction is for the Municipality to barter government debts with the claims of the banks from the Municipality as well as getting credits from the government to finance anew the city’s vital projects through bank loans.

Another priority is the pursuit of the twin bills (the bill on sustainable urban incomes which is arrived in the Parliament as well as the bill on integrated urban management). The adoption and implementation of these two bills can play an important role in advancing urban management in a different direction from urban management in the past. Another priority is stylization of the Municipality structure. Studies have shown that the massive body of Tehran Municipality is one of the factors that has led to inefficiency and increased expenditures at the Municipality, so the new mayor should take steps to improve the structure of the Municipality and make it agile.

Finally, reconciliation with the contractors as the third side in the city administration (the first side is the council and the municipality and the second side is the participative citizens) is known as the eighth urgency for the new mayor. Because the Municipality can accelerate the process of completing the unfinished projects and developing the city through trust with the contractors.

In addition to the urgencies noted by experts, the new mayor of the capital city in his plan of action to the City Council has introduced 10 working policies as one of the main axes for the administration of the city of Tehran. One of the policies emphasized in the program is “ending the domination of drivers over pedestrians in the city”. In the framework of this policy, limiting highway construction projects and strengthening the public transport and creating suitable spaces for walking and biking are mentioned. In this section, Hanachi intends to turn the areas in the vicinity of Kan-Farahzad district and valley rivers to special walking areas. In the first phase, Enqelab Square to Vali Asr Crossing and in the second phase Vali Asr Crossing to Haft-e-Tir Square will be turned into special pedestrian zone and tramva lines will be constructed.

The provision of nightlife in special pedestrian zones and creation of special service centers in these areas are among the priorities of the implementation of this policy. Also, one of the main weaknesses in ending the dominance of drivers is the weakness of the tourism spots which the new mayor wants to reduce this weakness by launching incentive packs to invest. At the same time, it aims to create a marginal parking intelligent system to reduce traffic congestion. In this area, the policy also takes into account the proper use of vehicles. According to the statistics presented in Hanachi’s program, 4.5 million people plus one million vehicles enter and exit Tehran from neighboring cities each day, which can be controlled by taking tolls.

The second policy envisioned by the new mayor is to charge citizens at reasonable amount for the services the Municipality offers to citizens. In this respect, he seeks to realize the urban toll rate for renovating residential property on the one hand, and the business toll on the other hand. In this way, each citizen will pay the actual costs in proportion to the extent of using the city’s opportunities. Studies show that at present, out of every 100 businesses, 17 people and out of every 100 residential property owners, 33 pay their tolls to the Municipality. Consequently, Hanachi considers the main challenge in managing the city to be the low share of sustainable revenues in the budget, and believes that by diversifying the sustainable revenue basket, which is now limited to value-added tax, the share of this type of revenue can be increased.

The third policy cited in Hanachi’s program is the creation of integrated urban management in order to better manage city affairs. Meanwhile, information transparency is one of the main policies of the new mayor and, on this basis he intends to complete the events that occurred in some areas during the last year in transparent dissemination of information. In this format, all municipal studies about the projects and programs the Municipality intends to implement are open to citizens. Electronic application of all the stages of issuing construction permits and equipping urban plans and schemes are among other programs of Hanachi in the framework of the fifth policy. Accordingly, all the considerations and the positive and negative effects of urban plans in the short, medium and long terms are presented in the future attachment to the people.

The sixth policy introduced in this program is to draw citizens’ support before decision making. In this way, the Municipality, by designing a system, will create the possibility for citizens to submit their own comments and suggestions on urban plans by registering their national code. Redefinition of local garbage stations is another policy of the new mayor in the waste area.

“Eliminating the inefficient urban areas and pursuing the issue in the government”, “Overlooked room for tourism and recreation in the city and its removal through private sector investment” and “Creating positive discrimination in the city to access services” are three other policies of the new mayor. Hanachi in his plan has pointed out that at present, the level of services, infrastructure and utilities in the northern regions of the capital city is 6 times higher than southern Tehran, while in terms of residential density of these areas the difference is not so big. “This shows unfair distribution of urban services,” he regretted.

Minutes after Hanachi was elected Tehran Mayor the official information website of the Municipality released a short video clip on the outlooks of the new mayor on how to manage the city, in which he mentioned two points. The first point is that Hanachi had announced the city budget has reached a fragile stage. This is while the main red line, namely a halt in selling FAR should not be crossed.

He said that if the Municipality fails to earn 250 billion rials daily in Tehran, it will be unable to manage the current state of affairs. The second point that Hanachi pointed out was the root of the public distrust in Tehran Municipality.

Recalling one story from more than a couple of decades ago, he said: “Some years ago, the Municipality of Tehran intended to buy a large property in the vicinity of Pol-e Roomi to build a park. The owner of the land offered the land free of charge under the condition that the Municipality will turn it into a park in favor of the city. But eventually the property turned into a multi-story tower. Numerous examples of this incident have made citizens lose trust in the Municipality."

At the end of the video clip, Hanachi said he will remain committed to the promises he has made to the people.

 

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