Kirkuk Masterplan to put end for public property takeover

Kirkuk 2021- A scene of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Karwan Salihi

By Karwan Salihi in Kirkuk

The local administration of Kirkuk has signed a contract with a US company based in Jordan four years ago to draw the final layout of the city yet occupation of public property is ongoing simultaneously, local officials said.

The administration of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk hope that finalization of the city masterplan which is in the last stage could put an end to more illegally built houses, stores and districts.

“There is no definite masterplan for Kirkuk which paved the road for demographic changes in the city and illegal use of state property like new districts beyond the plans of the municipality,” said Faraydoun Adel Zangana, director of Kirkuk municipality.

Zangana said the Masterplan is in the final stage. “We are in touch with them and notify them about our concerns. Once it is ready, the administration of Kirkuk will discuss it and we will share our comments,” he added.

One of the key challenges facing the process is the continuous campaign of using state land without permission forcing the municipality to modify its maps and plans.

“Any force or party that has an upper hand and majority, can change the map of the city as they wish in their favor.”

“Any force or party that has an upper hand and majority, can change the map of the city as they wish in their favor.”

After ousting Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, thousands of houses were built illegally all over Iraq and particularly in the disputed territories as thousands of houses; stores and even bazaars have been built on public property.

Two weeks ago, PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi flew to the city of Karbala to pay condolence to the family of Karbala municipality director shot dead by people took over a public property and he has ordered to remove the violation and accompanied the staff himself.

Kirkuk follows Baghdad and Basra in terms of the of volume of public property take over without permission mainly used for housing.

The national security service in Kirkuk was tasked to close illegally built plot trading offices in the sporadic neighborhoods, about 10 located in those districts.

The Iraqi ministry of municipality has also decided to stop any utility service and projects for these neighborhoods built beyond the plans and maps of the municipalities.  

“Illegally built houses and buildings is a big hamper in the face of Kirkuk Masterplan in the future,” Zangana added.

 The local authorities are launching campaigns to impose law and put an end to these trespass on government properties through teams of anti-violation on government real estate supported by security forces yet most of it are temporarily held off due to the complicated texture of war-ravaged region.

The Iraqi government has decided to officially register the illegally built houses on Nov. 19, 2019 to its residents. The statement was dictated to the local administrations in all Iraqi provinces.

Following fall of Saddam regime in 2003, thousands of people expelled from Kirkuk and disputed territories have received plots of lands from the Kurdish parties ruling the region without being officially registered or permitted by local authorities.

Kirkuk, 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is an ethnically mixed province for 1.2 million Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Turkmen. It has long been at the center of disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.

Kirkuk administration provided basic services to some of the blocs but later it was stopped by Iraqi government. The local authorities gave notice of evacuation to the residents whom declined to leave unless compensated.

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