Qatif’s people hope that members of their municipal council would perform the expected role from them. This role includes providing and enhancing the appropriate and basic services within the limits and powers
that had been set to municipal councils. Citizens want their municipal council to make a significant step in addressing issues like preserving the environment and offering services in and outside neighborhoods.
Alyaum newspaper met the Chairman of Qatif Municipal Council, Jafar Alshayeb, to present citizens’ anticipations in the region as well as the Council’s future projects.
Alshayeb believes that the way followed in electing Chairmen and Vise Chairmen offered everyone, including the appointed members, the opportunity to participate and nominate themselves for those positions through voting. Some members ran for those two positions but it was agreed upon a set of principles which he thinks they were extremely objective and realistic. Some of which are the necessity of separating the executive department chairmanship (municipality) from the supervisory one (council) in order to make sure of the systematic work independency, and the importance of alternating roles between appointed and elected members in the chairmanship and vise chairmanship of the council to achieve harmony among all members.
Appointed Members Problem:
Alshyeb stated that there must be a system that regulates the work of the municipal councils and their election system. However, the appointing issue was discussed since the beginning of municipal election project in Saudi Arabia and, of course, there are differences between elected and appointed members’ visions and ambitions. Although the elected member has a greater enthusiasm and ambition than the appointed one, but appointing has a positive side in making sure of providing all competencies and specializations that are required in the municipality’s works.
Alshayeb admitted that Qatif Municipal Council, as the rest of Saudi Councils, is in the beginning of its way in recognizing the current municipal projects and gathering opinions and suggestions in order to develop those projects and create other new ones. Moreover, members of the Council have different perceptions but they can be grouped together to create one common perception for future projects. However, reorganizing the inner status of the Municipality and the Council, preparing them for the future plans besides supervising them can be considered the starting point for the Municipality’s work.
During the election campaigns, many citizens expressed their anticipations over upgrading the municipal services level by participating in forums and meetings in which members of the Municipal Council attended or through sending letters to the Municipal Council.
Briefly, these anticipations are over developing the infrastructure of municipal services in a balanced way in different areas of Qatif region, protecting the region’s environment and shores, as well as setting developmental future plans to accommodate the expansion of population and to address the current issues like traffic jams and accidents.
The Role of Citizens:
Clearly, one of the municipal election project’s goals is providing citizens an opportunity to promote their involvement and participation in public affairs because this participation is considered an important factor in developing and succeeding the election experience. Alshayeb mentioned that members of the Municipal Council were interested in improving communication with citizens and finding several mechanisms to stimulate this communication, as well as organizing direct public meetings to receive suggestions and complaints.
The Council will work on giving the society’s individuals, especially of competencies, the opportunity to implement their thoughts and projects that are in favor of the region. It, also, hopes that the society practices its right in criticizing, monitoring and advising the Council in order to develop our region.
Dealing with Departments:
The executive panel had determined the limits and powers of the Municipal Council which would be the bases for dealing with various issues that concern the Council.
Furthermore, there is a procedural guide for the municipal work that determines the mechanisms. Therefore, the Council will address those issues according to the codes and regulations, which may require coordinating with governmental departments to save efforts and public funds.
Alshayeb in his elective program discussed the issue of administrative and financial corruption that result in wasting public funds and violating citizens’ rights. This financial wasting sometimes occurs due to lack of supervising the implemented works and projects that the state dedicates huge funds to be implemented perfectly.
Obviously, the world states make huge efforts to set regulations that address this current problem. They, also, urge the legislative and regulatory bodies like parliaments and municipal councils to mind this concern.
Alshayeb referred to many services that the Municipality needs to be taken care of like sanitation, paving and lighting roads. These services are fundamental to citizens; therefore, the Municipal Council’s members
discussed how to enhance them elaborately. Moreover, the Municipal Council has many developmental plans and recommended projects that need to be studied then implemented.
Providing a healthy and clean environment to citizens is a significant concern to the Municipal Council. Therefore, it highly concentrates on examining the environmental issues and conducts many field studies to find solutions and set strict rules over these environmental problems.
As for markets, the municipality carried out some studies to move the fish market from the center of Qatif and away from the residential area. This is within a comprehensive beneficial project that is under study.
Unfortunately, many tragic incidents occur in old neighborhoods because they are difficult to reach and their lack for safety measures.
Moreover, they are usually deserted areas; which their houses about to fall or inhabited by some citizens or residents.
These neighborhoods are in dire need to be reconsidered seriously, and studies must be conducted over the possibility of developing them or making them touristic centers whether to citizens or others.
Alshayeb hopes that Qatif Municipal Council plays an active role in preserving and restoring those areas, and transforms some of them to successful beneficial projects through reorganizing them in order to coincide with the development programs in the region.
He referred to a similar problem which is tin houses that exist in several districts of the region. Charitable societies work hard to remove and replace those houses because they are not suitable for living and do not fit with the region’s status and fortune.
In regard to handicapped people, Alshayeb mentioned that offering them suitable services depends on the extent of obligation to rule that state on the necessity of providing this segment of citizens adequate services to facilitate their movement, check in government departments or in different public utilities.
Moreover, that depends on how the society’s individuals deal with the provided services to this group. For example, parking spaces, which are close to buildings, are usually designated to people with special needs, but some citizens do not respect this right and use them; consequently, that causes more difficulties to this group of people.
As for establishing clubs for motorcycle and car racing sports, Alshayeb proclaimed that municipalities’ role in this regard is restrained, but he called for offering a detailed study of a profitable project that includes different kinds of race sports, and provides a suitable place with safety measures in order to make young people practice these sports without causing any harms. However, this project requires a collective effort from citizens, businessmen and administrative departments to be established.
Officials are highly looking for maintaining historical and heritage sites in the region, and they seek investing them properly. Moreover, there is a draft that is being studied over having a museum which is expected to preserve the folkloric heritage and antiques.
During the past period, the Municipal Council found many competencies who can greatly contribute in investing the folkloric heritage to be a source for touristic attraction, besides there are various investment opportunities in tourism within the region which businessmen should make use of them.