Mayor Saudi praises Sidon’s development successes
Mayor Saudi praises Sidon’s development successes- Mohammad Zaatari - Daily Star
Mohammed Zaatari| The Daily Star
SIDON, Lebanon: Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi Sunday praised three areas of success achieved in implementing and launching projects that he had promised for his tenure leading the municipal council, just months before the end of his six-year-term.
A major catalyst for the successes has been “the presence of a mayor who follows [through],” the course of work, Saudi told The Daily Star in an interview looking at the last months of his premiership ahead of municipal elections set for May.
A harmonized municipal council as well as unwavering support and backing from the city’s two MPs, Fouad Siniora and Bahia Hariri, are the other main reasons, he said.
“Sidon was the only city in Lebanon where projects remained ongoing and achievements were made over the past few years.”
“There is an additional factor, and that’s been shielding municipal work from politics so that work, like [project] implementation, is for the whole city,” he added.
The capital of the south has begun reaping the rewards of projects implemented by the municipal council over the past six years. Sidon has numerous planed works as well as events that aim to develop the city’s infrastructure, services and bring the community together.
One major project success, however, stood above the rest for Saudi due to its urgency and importance for the city: “the removal of the mountain of garbage beside Sidon’s southern coast.”
Sidon has struggled for many years with a trash crisis because of four decades of inadequate management that led to a massive pileup. However, this notorious dump was removed recently, taking the environmental hazards with it.
The site of the dump has now been turned into a park that blossoms with colorful roses and trees near the city’s southern beach.
The public garden that now replaces the dump site makes Saudi proud, particularly because it has helped prevent pollution and sewage running into the city’s sea.
Tanneries that are close to the park will soon be moved to another area, and he added that this is being funded through a grant from the European Union.
The mayor, along with municipal council, visited the park to dedicate the achievement to the city, its people and Lebanon’s environment.
As for the Sanniq waste treatment plant, Saudi said it has finally reached a solution for the byproducts from the waste treatment which will be sent to the Sicomo Company in Bekaa Valley to be recycled.
A small dump site near the plant no longer welcomes its waste and is now only used for garbage coming from some construction sites within Sidon, the mayor explained. This will be the case “until a landfill suitable for byproducts is made or a solution for them is found,” the mayor explained.
Saudi then went on to list several projects that were completed and will be inaugurated later this year, such as the Omani School, the Turkish Trauma and Emergency Hospital and the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan park on Sidon’s seafront near the Omari Mosque.
The Turkish Trauma and Emergency Hospital, Saudi explained, “will become a specialized public hospital.” Opening the facility, which has stood empty for some time since construction was completed, requires the spending of $300,000 for maintenance and rehabilitation and then an estimated $8 million to operate the facility for the first six months.
Saudi said that meetings are being held with Health Minister Wael Abu Faour in order to begin the process of opening the hospital.
The facility has 63 rooms, but the equipment available could serve 300. Saudi suggested establishing a new building near the current one that would house between 150 and 200 rooms to make use of this excess of available equipment.
The mayor also promised that the remodeling of Sidon’s downtown infrastructure will be finished by April 2016.
The last issue that remains is the plan for traffic management in the central business district and creating pedestrianized areas.
Completing the traffic management plan “requires building a parking lot,” Saudi noted. There are two suggestions for that, he said, and that is either establishing a large parking lot at Nijmeh Square or replacing Sidon’s municipality building.
Saudi announced that the zoning previously placed at the Wastani neighborhood will be removed as plans for the previously approved highway that would pass through the area have been scrapped.
He added that there’s a project to create a new port for fishermen to replace the current one, as well as reform Sidon’s seafront with the help of the Barcelona City Council.
“We are used to not lying to people,” Saudi said. “Despite everything that stood in our way, from criticism and attempts to disturb achievements, they all faded just as the projects began to rise and [take shape] in the city.”