Jableh City Council ‘Building Violations’ Go Unpunished

While administrative units elsewhere in Syria are working to prosecute construction code violations, the Jableh City Council in Lattakia governorate has shown little interest in applying Decree No. 40 of 2012, which addresses such violations.

The city council continues to build on real estate No 3816 east of Jableh’s stadium, despite the infringements on setbacks in all directions, in violation of the building permit. The setback is part of the plot that is barred from construction under the city’s master plan and building codes.

Neighbours affected by the construction have submitted multiple complaints to the City Council, as the project has become an infringement on their private properties. The complaints also mentioned that the zoning description of the project’s second floor had been changed from residential to commercial. Under the regulations in place in the project’s real estate zone, only the first floor of a residential building may be licensed as commercial.

In June, the state-run newspaper Al-Thawra published an article about the violations and complaints, only to delete it two days later. A media source from Jableh indicated that the article was deleted due to pressure from influential people in the city, something the source described as a normal occurrence.

According to local sources in Jableh, the city council took advantage of holidays and days off to complete the project, a method often used by merchants of so-called “building violations”, who speed up construction during official holidays to avoid government supervision.

The Jableh City Council is already facing numerous complaints from residents regarding its failure to prosecute construction code violations, as well as its selective suppression of such violations. Accusations include turning a blind eye to cases of clear encroachment on both public and private properties, as well as unlicensed or otherwise illegal construction within Jableh or the surrounding countryside, including the villages of Bseisin, Dweir Al-Khatib, Al-Rmeileh, and Sharasheer.

Officials in Jableh and the surrounding countryside have previously been  known to violate building permits and other construction rules. In 2020, the mayor of Wadi Al-Qalaa, which is administratively affiliated with Jableh, granted a licence for the construction of a funeral hall. However, the funeral hall was later converted into a restaurant, in violation of the terms of the license. Local sources told The Syria Report that the mayor then bought the restaurant.

Earlier, in 2017, the municipality carved out part of the main street adjacent to the sports stadium, building a strip of unlicensed shops later granted to the Jableh Sports Club for investment. In building the shopping strip, the municipality reduced the width of the street from 20 metres to 10 metres, in violation of the master plans approved by Decree No. 188 of 1995. The Executive Office of the Lattakia Governorate Council issued a new master plan in 2019, though it is awaiting review by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing.

Though demolitions and removals of “building violations” have ramped up in a number of cities, Jableh has been spared. The city holds a special status as a stronghold of influential security and military figures, which means municipal employees face two options: either to avoid holding violators accountable, or to work within the networks of corruption.