Remarkable improvement in life conditions has been recorded in Baghdad as a result of local authorities renovating and reopening streets.
At least 600 main streets and exits in Baghdad and its surrounding neighborhoods have been reopened, Director of Baghdad Operations Command Media Office Brigadier General Qasim Atiya told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Thousands of concrete blocks that were suffocating the capital were also lifted, he said.
“In recent months, we have removed 281 control and security checkpoints in Baghdad and 50 percent of the remaining security points are being removed," said Atiya.
The official added increased intelligence and incremental success in upholding security will play a major part in keeping the capital safe.
"The alternatives are to work on a major intelligence effort, and we have made progress in this regard, and military operations we have carried out in the Baghdad belt have made a big difference in security," said Atiya.
On erecting a fence and security gates, an announcement made earlier by the Command to secure the capital, Atiya pointed out that “construction is underway in this direction, and we have benefited from the concrete blocks that were lifted from the streets in securing vital intersections.”
Atiya revealed that the removed blocks ”will be reused to set up a security fence around Baghdad to prevent terrorists from accessing the Iraqi capital and posing a threat to its residents.”
Baghdad Mayoralty Spokesman Hakim Abdul-Zahra estimated the number of unregulated housing units in the capital by about 250,000.
He made note of extensive infringements against water networks, public sidewalks and public property.
“For five months we have been tackling transgressions in most areas of Baghdad. So far we have raised over 5,000 cases,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He pointed out that “violations come under different categories, such as encroaching on main and subsidiary water pipes.”
“We have already removed 282 violations against the capital’s water networks located in Sadr City,” he noted.
Mentioning another type of violations, Abdul-Zahra said that the Mayoralty is also pursuing street vendors operating unlicensed kiosks on sidewalks, and building housing units constructed on public property.
Among the difficult challenges facing taskforce members are the violent threats by trespassers, reaching the point of “death threats” at times, and tribal condemnation.
Despite the arms threat, the taskforce is determined to carry operations through and clean up Baghdad’s streets, said Abdul-Zahra.