Thursday, July 03, 2003
03 Jul 2003 16:02:07 GMT
Saddam hometown starts post-war reconstruction plan
By Hassan Hafidh
TIKRIT, Iraq, July 3 (Reuters) - A former Iraqi army officer appointed by U.S. adminstrators to run ousted President Saddam Hussein's home town said he could make it look like a European city in four years if reconstruction goes ahead as planned.
Hussein al-Jibouri, appointed governor of the town of Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, said some rebuilding had begun and a four-year reconstruction plan was expected to start soon.
"If the four-year reconstruction plan is implemented, Tikrit would look like a European city," Jibouri told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
He said rebuilding work worth four billion dinars ($2.8 million) over four years would focus on building bridges, schools, roads, water systems and power stations.
Saddam's face adorned every lamp post in Tikrit before U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq and ended his rule in April. The town profited from Saddam's largesse during his 24-year rule and streets and services were among the best in Iraq.
Mindful of that past and securing stability of the area, Jibouri said he made sure Iraqi companies would carry out most of the reconstruction work and that at least half of the labourers would be Iraqi nationals.
"We have put a condition to the U.S.-led administration in Iraq that most of reconstruction should be done by Iraqi companies and 50 percent of the workers taking part should be Iraqis," he said.
Jibouri said his governorate had assets of 10 billion dinars inherited from the former administration and he intended to pay government employees and former army personnel from that sum.
After Saddam fell, many Iraqis, especially state employees, began to protest that they were no longer receiving any money and their living conditions were plummeting.
Jibouri said he had handed over 1.5 billion dinars in salaries to civil servants and army personnel in the last two months. He said salaries of June had been provided by the coalition administration in Baghdad.
FROM A STRONG TRIBE
Jibouri said he was chosen by the U.S.-led coalition because he was from a strong tribe, called al-Jibour living in and around Tikrit.
Again with security in mind, Jabouri said he opposed a decision by U.S. civil administrators over the dissolution of the Iraqi army and Saddam's ruling Baath party.
With the agreement of U.S.-led forces, he used some members from both the army and the Baath party in the local administration, arguing that if these people were made redundant, they could create problems.
"I have moved some army officers to the Iraqi police force and the others were employed by offices in the governorate," he
While U.S. and British troops struggle to enforce law and order in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, Jibouri said he was confident of securing order in Tikrit and surrounding areas.
"The Americans have chosen me for the post because I come from a strong tribe and I have good experience in dealing with a situation such as Iraq is seeing," he added.
Jibouri made his comments just days after the chief of Saddam's tribe was gunned down by unknown assailants a few metres (yards) from the governor's office.