• Antoine Frem

Running a Lebanese City

In addition to serving as Vice Chairman of INDEVCO (Industrial Development Company), a Lebanon-based company manufacturing paperboard, corrugated cartons, plastics, and sanitary products, and Chairman of Interstate Resources Inc., a US-based company, I also serve as Mayor of the city of Jounieh in Lebanon.

I want to tell you something about running a modern Lebanese city.

Jounieh, with a population of around 200,000, is one of Lebanon’s largest cities and is located on the coast, 21 km north of Beirut. It has several schools, universities, hospitals, houses of worship, banks, restaurants, hotels, and beach resorts.

I believe public service and the common good should be shielded from political or personal interest and the municipal council of Jounieh is committed to these same principles, carrying out its public service responsibilities transparently while uprooting corruption.

Within the Comprehensive Development Plan and Strategy, the municipal council has achieved several important projects, including:

  1. Jounieh Public Garden, which provides citizens, visitors, and tourists free access to green zones, pedestrian streets, and jogging and cycling areas.

  1. Friendship Square, which was inaugurated in September 2011. It epitomizes our belief in the importance of openness, coexistence, and cultural exchange involving Lebanon and countries around the globe. In April 2013, the municipality of Jounieh, in coordination with the US Embassy in Lebanon and the American Task Force for Lebanon, dedicated a statue of Lebanese-American diplomat Ambassador Philip Habib for his mission to broker peace in Lebanon in 1982, while serving as US special envoy to the Middle East. The ceremony was attended by the highest political and social figures, and The Hon. Maura Connelly, U.S.ambassador to Lebanon, represented the US government and Dr. George Cody represented the ATFL.

  1. Jounieh International Summer Festival, which is organized annually by the municipality of Jounieh and Phellipolis, an NGO, to showcase concerts and performances by Lebanese and international artists.

  1. Drilling of several reservoirs to collect rainwater.

  2. Rehabilitation of the major city roads.

  3. Rehabilitation, with USAID assistance, of the fishing harbor and fishing cooperative.

Main challenges:

  • The influx of more than 20,000 Syrian refuges to Jounieh has presented challenges in terms of housing, schooling, sewage, water, and other infrastructure.

  • Administrative centralization in Lebanon has been a major obstacle delaying municipal work and project implementation. There should be administrative decentralization to expand the powers of the municipal councils, which were elected by the people and enjoy the confidence of the people. I believe administrative decentralization represents a sound basis for good governance.

  • Waste management used to be assigned to the central government. Recently and without prior notice, waste management was handed over to municipalities, although the municipal funds have not been released for municipalities to undertake this responsibility. In addition, the lack of sufficient sanitary landfills and sorting facilities constitute a difficulty for municipalities in disposing of their cities’ waste.

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