New Tehran Mayor-Elect Outlines Agenda
EghtesadOnline: It’s a great blessing to be at the service of Tehran’s residents; I would cherish that with my round-the-clock efforts as I extend the hand of friendship to everyone to achieve the goal of "Tehran, A City for All", Pirouz Hanachi tweeted on Tuesday, a few hours after he won the nip-and-tuck capital city’s mayoral race.
The new mayor secured 11 votes from 21 Tehran city councilors against his former boss at the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, Abbas Akhoundi (who recently resigned his post before a Cabinet reshuffle).
Hanachi, 55, who has a PhD in revival architecture, held several positions in the Housing Ministry (which was revamped as the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development) under three administrations since 1997, before joining the Tehran Municipality as technical and construction deputy during Tehran Mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi’s tenure in September 2017.
He later served as deputy for architecture and urban development under the outgoing Tehran mayor, Mohammad Ali Afshani, according to Financial Tribune.
Hanachi had earlier contested against both Najafi and Afshani in the previous rounds of mayoral elections. He had also been named by some as a main candidate to run one of the ministries proposed to be established after the division of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.
The ministry was proposed to be split into two separate bodies, one in charge of roads and transportation and the other housing and urban development, but the plan was shelved indefinitely.
The newly-elected mayor of the capital city has laid a list of agendas on the policies of his office.
Pedestrians to Be Prioritized Over Car-Owners
“Spelling the end of car-owners’ dominance over pedestrians” by restricting the construction of highways and increasing the share of public transportation (from 19% to 25%) as well as creating appropriate spaces for walking and bicycling will be highly prioritized during Hanachi’s term.
Pedestrian walkways will be created in several neighborhoods, including from Enqelab Square up to the intersection of Valiasr-Enqelab Street and then to Haft-e Tir Street in central Tehran. Nighttime businesses will be supported along these pedestrian trails.
The new mayor blames the scarcity of spaces appealing to tourists and says he plans to redress this issue by introducing attractive investment packages.
To reduce traffic congestions in Tehran, TM will create a smart street parking system and an efficient vehicle taxation system.
According to figures presented by Hanachi, a total of 4.5 million people and one million motor vehicles move in and out of Tehran on a daily basis, which could be reduced if a workable system of taxation is devised.
Coming up With Sustainable Revenues
Another policy advocated by the new mayor is to levy proportional charges for services offered by the municipality, including duties on renovation of real estates and commercial properties. This is while only 17% of shopkeepers and 33% of real estate owners pay their taxes and duties.
Hanachi believes that the main challenge facing the city management is the small share of sustainable revenues in the budget and that by diversifying the municipality's resources, which are now limited to revenues from value added tax, it is possible to increase the share of sustainable incomes.
“The creation of an integrated urban management to advance Tehran's affairs” comes next on the list of the new mayor's priorities.
Information transparency will be the centerpiece of the capital city’s new ordinance.
Researches carried out by the municipality will be made available to the public. All stages of securing construction permits will be conducted online.
The negative and positive effects of urban projects in short-, medium- and long-terms would be fleshed out for people under the tag of “Future Appendix”.
Last year, the municipality unveiled a first-of-its-kind website, Shafaf.tehran.ir, which offered viewers a full overview of its major contracts—those worth over 10 billion rials ($72,463) and the details of the city’s current fiscal spending package. Later, it offered specifics of all its contracts worth over 2.5 billion rials ($18,115).
The website also features information on municipality’s executives, including their education and experience, university degrees, alma mater, their previous position and the type of their employment contracts.
Drawing on Resident's Views
Another policy introduced by the new mayor will be to "take into account Tehran residents' views before the implementation of a decision”.
The municipality will design a website in which the residents can leave their comments and recommendations about urban projects after they register with their national identification number.
Overhauling Waste Management
Overhauling the management of waste transfer stations has also been incorporated into Hanachi’s agenda.
According to studies, there are four main criticisms about trash drop-off locations in Tehran's neighborhoods: The waste management is deemed to be poor, they hobble waste sorting and deprive the city from the revenues associated with waste sales and they blight the neighborhoods by negatively affecting the landscaping.
“Removal of the inefficient urban fronts”, identifying “the untapped potential of tourism and leisure in city and fixing it by attracting the investment of the private sector” and “taking affirmative action in providing services” and tackling inequality are other policies that the new mayor seeks to champion.
Currently, urban services and infrastructures are six times better in the affluent northern parts of Tehran than in the southern areas of the capital city, suggesting that public services are unfairly distributed in the city, Hanachi said in his Tuesday presentation.
He believes that unless TM generates a daily 250 billion rials ($1.81 million), it will fail to carry out its day-to-day administration of affairs.
Tehran City Council elected the capital's third mayor in less than two years since the start of its current term in May 2016, after its first appointee resigned and the second was expelled.
Najafi, who had been sworn in as mayor in September 2017, decided to step down due to undisclosed health conditions and left office in April.
His substitute Afshani was subject to a recently-approved ban on reemploying retirees in public positions and was, therefore, dismissed.