Economy, Domestic Economy

TM Criticized for Unaccountability, Skirting Rules

TM Criticized for Unaccountability, Skirting RulesTM Criticized for Unaccountability, Skirting Rules

The director general of the National Building Regulations Bureau, Gholamreza Havai, has urged Tehran Municipality to work in tandem with the government while issuing construction permits.

In an interview with ILNA, Havai has said the level of accountability of the municipality to higher authorities such as the ministry of roads and urban development is “unjustifiably low.”

He explained why the municipality does not stop problematic construction projects even after a ‘stop order’ is issued by the ministry, similar to what happened in the case of Sistanika building which collapsed due to poor construction.

“The municipality needs to be held accountable,” he said admitting that “our organization and the roads ministry are in charge.” However, he said, “The problem is the municipality does not abide by the rules and regulations we issue, in many cases.”

“We intend to solve the issue through negotiations with municipality officials but if talks fail we will refer to the judicial system as the last resort to force the municipality to take necessary measures to avoid such incidents,” the official added.

He highlighted the drawbacks of the ‘Tehran Comprehensive Master Plan’ and activities of the municipality under the name of “Article 5 Commission” as two major causes of conflict between the building regulations bureau and Tehran Municipality.

The master plan is a document for the capital city and is considered a code of conduct for all district offices of Tehran Municipality. The plan divides the city in such a way as to facilitate control of construction work and improve the quality of construction projects.

Under the plan, Tehran has been divided into four residential, business, mixed, and protected areas. Implementation of the master plan started at the beginning of the current Iranian year, March 21, 2014, and will continue for 15 years, according to the municipality’s website.

Havai complained that there is no watchdog organization to supervise implementation of the master plan. “Thus the municipality has been able to bypass the rules in some cases.”

  Construction Permits

Another problem is the issuance of construction permits by the municipality for projects that do not thoroughly observe the required safety regulations, which at times leads to incidents like those occurred in Sistankia or Iran Zamin projects, he stated.

Havai further referred to some major construction projects in Tehran that have been points of conflict between the municipality and the ministry of roads and urban development.

“An illegal construction project of a parking lot next to the building of road ministry came to a halt due to lack of required documents. The municipality was asked to provide the documents, something that has not happened yet.”

The Iran-Zamin project was a major commercial center set to be constructed in Shahrak-e-Gharb, in western Tehran. The building however collapsed after an excavation operation in the area and the project was suspended following the incident.

In response to a question raised by ILNA about possible fines for the contractor and the owner of the project, Havai said, “It would be part of the process if the case is taken to the court.”

The Aladdin Building – Tehran’s largest mobile phone market – is another example. Tehran Construction Engineering Organization issued a demolition order after the owner of the building ignored warnings and continued the illegal construction of a seventh floor, he noted.

He added that a court order has been communicated to the owners and must be carried out; though the time of demolition is not yet known.

Regarding the excavation operation adjacent to the Haghani metro station in Tehran, he said the operation has been postponed to “when the municipality provides the roads ministry with legal documents for resumption of the project.”

The excavation operation has been halted due to safety concerns. Havai said it requires significant changes if the municipality insists on resuming the project.