Residents block the business of the town hall

For many Tunisians, the town hall, or “Al Baladia” in Arabic, represents the structure that collects their waste. For others, it is this unlikely architectural structure that sits in the Kasbah in front of the Government Palace. For the inhabitants of El Menzah 9, the town hall of Tunis, it is this city council that wants to do business in Abdelaziz Thaalbi street, which is already very busy because it is narrow, putting hard huts in one file, of 50m2 one . Future stores that she can rent all year round. A juicy future business that was stopped dead by a strong mobilization of local residents, who filed a complaint given the extreme administrative opacity covered by the project, with the mayor refusing to explain who would benefit from the community’s space.

In the order of the Administrative Court of Tunis, which was able to obtain Business News, the lawyer appointed by the associations and residents of El Menzah 9, Saber Ben Ammar, explains in his complaint that the Mayor of Tunis, Souad Abderrahim, has granted permits, to people who are not from the municipality, for the construction of business premises on the only “green” space at Menzah 9.

In his attack, the lawyer also reveals the amount of rent that will eventually be collected by the town hall. Two thousand dinars a year and per cabin. He also denounces the violation of the code of municipalities, which prescribes that residents have a say in the projects that are carried out in their neighbourhood. And indeed, at this point several associations have stepped up to the plate as soon as the first bulldozers from the town hall appear on the land in question.

With the district representative, we contacted the town hall in February for clarification, but we received no feedback. We have submitted freedom of information requests to access the minutes of the meetings where these decisions were made, but we have not received a response. explains the head of the green zone association El Menzah, adding: We learned that during the city council meeting, the president of El Menzah 9 constituency, Mr. Dabbebi, stated that the residents of the district had given their approval to the project. This is wrong! The residents of the area are against this commercial project. We have repeatedly asked Ms Abderrahim to explain to us what is going on, but we never got an answer. We are for the economic development of the country, but we need to know what is being prepared and we need to be explained or at least informed.

Apart from the worrying lack of transparency imposed on this project by the local government, the neglect of a normative order was noted by the residents of the neighborhood who complained about power cuts. Indeed, on the video document obtained by Business News, we can see the municipal workers of the site, without appropriate clothing, working with a shovel in hand, directly on the electrical wires, jagged, feeding the area.

Those who initiated the project, in this case the members of the city council, do not live in the El Menzah 9 district. They work to meet the demands of the real promoters of the project and who see in this country, that can not are built on the latest development plan, a financial operation. However, they fail to see that Abdelaziz Thaalbi Street already has a major traffic problem and that on the perpendicular Tahar Ben Ammar Avenue, a dozen anarchist constructions, “akcheek”, are polluting the sidewalks.

Faced with the mobilization, the Tunis Administrative Court ruled on May 29, 2022. The work is postponed. A first victory for the community whose residents continue to monitor the area. † Despite the court order, small devices are activated in the field from time to time during the day confided in the owner of a shop near the controversial construction site. An irregularity also noted by Business News during a trip to the area made on the morning of June 8.

Since the development of El Menzah 9 in the 1980s and 1990s, the land, the subject of controversy, has been abandoned by the town hall for garbage and stray dogs being shot at night. A country abandoned by what is not cultivable according to the development plan. The residents of the neighborhood have always advocated the creation of a fitness trail, a green zone. Today his calling has changed, without anyone knowing how. It will be a commercial area.

At the sight of the tobacco and contraband shacks mushrooming on the sidewalks, analysts of the Tunisian issue have to face the facts: Tunisia’s business model is mainly focused on the development of cafeterias and “Akcheek” !

At a time when many see the services of the town hall filling the potholes in the roads with sand and gravel, the residents of El Menzah 9, themselves, see themselves occupying a piece of land by strangers to the municipality, the whole with the active help from the town hall, which tries to escape ahead.

Sophie Ahres

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