Challenges Many in Urban Development

Challenges Many  in Urban DevelopmentChallenges Many  in Urban Development

Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has announced that the “Tehran Municipality (TM) is determined to change people’s attitude toward traffic and environmental issues.”

Ghalibaf, in an interview with IRIB, spoke on several issues facing the capital, citing ‘’outdated laws’’ and ‘’ bad organizational structure’’ as the main challenges to city development, Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported.

He said the problems facing the capital are of two sorts: Basic problems that ought to be addressed in the long and short term and everyday problems that should be tackled in the current year under the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2011-16).

The mayor traced the root of all urban ills to “mismanagement” and said ‘’ if a remedy is not found, all efforts in other areas will be of little effect.’’ The “outdated” laws are insufficient to meet the new challenges. ‘’Ours are 21st century problems while the laws which we deal with belong to the mid 20th century,’’ he maintained.

 Organizational Structure

Ghalibaf blamed the “inefficient organizational structure” for shortcomings in urban development and said a “backward system can’t move things forward” as it is not designed to meet the challenges of the new era.

On the traffic issue he said efforts are hamstrung by the wrong structure of city management. ‘’ People are witnessing that the number in Tehran highways has doubled in the past two decades, more than 20kms of city tunnels were built, metro lines were increased to 5, and the construction of mosques, cinemas, theaters, halls and parks were accelerated; but still feel uncomfortable,’’ he observed.

The mayor also criticized the limited role city councils play in making major development decisions and pointed out “they have no final say in matters.” The autonomy of city councils have been capped by governor’s offices, which is unconstitutional,’’ he maintained. “We don’t even deal with public utility, health and education in big cities whereas in small towns the question is whether they have enough funds to pay workers’ salary or even to collect the garbage,’’ he said.


Ghalibaf advocated reforms to decrease government responsibilities and make the bureaucracy smaller. “We are advocating for the law to permit devolution of local and national tasks so that we can attend to people’s needs at the local level through civic bodies,’’ he said. Municipalities are local governments, he pointed out. He hoped that collaboration between the administration and the Majlis will lead to solving this ‘’half a century old predicament.’’

He said an important component of world’s big economies is the ‘’service sector’’ and asked ‘’why municipalities shouldn’t be given more autonomy to foster this sector in cities?”


The mayor also said on a nocturnal tour of the city he had visited the homeless and estimated that there are 15,000 people without homes. He announced plans to reach out to them especially in winter. ’’ I saw war veterans among the homeless, even people with state university degrees and a man who had translated four or five books,’’ he said.

Declaring that the government cannot solve all social maladies, he said the law needs amendment to address the problems.

Ghalibaf said the municipality’s top priority was to build and renovate the city’s infrastructure as is seen in the construction of bridges, highways and metro facilities during his tenure. Metro lines have been extended from 34km to 205 km. Building 400 mosques is on the agenda. ‘’ We have built 200 mosques so far,’’ he said.

One of the TM’s aims is to turn the 12th District of Tehran, which contains the Grand Bazar into an artistic and cultural spot. He said “we also aim to lay out plans to change the cultural landscape of the capital.”