The Kifri administration and protestors have begun to move toward collaboration with investors and merchants in the district to draw investment, revitalize industry, and establish youth employment opportunities. Meanwhile, protests in Kifri have been called off to give Kifri’s local government time to fulfill its promises.
These initiatives, which have been the subject of three days of intensive meetings and talks, began their first phase on June 10 with the completion of the reconstruction of an iron plant, which has been halted since last year.
Shwan Jalal, one of the Kifri protestors’ representatives in the meetings, said, “we signed a memorandum with the district administration, that contained many of the protestors’ demands.”
According to the agreement, the Kifri district administration will facilitate investment, business growth and ownership to incentivize development in the district.
Jalal added, “for example, the first demand was to restart building Kifri’s iron plant, which was halted in 2019 because of government's barriers.”
A joint committee including representatives of the protestors and auhorties in Kifri was established to supervise the implementation of the agreement.
“The committee will meet with [business] owners and investors to discuss with them the district commissioner's efforts to facilitate the distribution of land for development,” Jalal explained.
On June 8, the district commissioner of Kifri released a statement announcing these initiatives to investors in the district and the Kurdistan Region and affirming that the district could implement various projects in every sector, with a concentration on creating opportunities for youth employment.
We can provide support for the operation of businesses and we emphasize that we will not allow anyone to interfere with their operations
“We can provide support for the operation of businesses and we emphasize that we will not allow anyone to interfere with their operations or for the demands of the rich to frustrate [progress]…we will be their steadfast champions.”
These new efforts followed demonstrations organized by youths in the district that continued for four consecutive nights. Protestors rejected travel restrictions imposed to contain COVID19 and demanded work.
Protestors believe that the government cannot impose a lockdown, while it does not provide relief.
There are many wealthy investors and businesses that are prepared to invest in Kifri
“There are many wealthy investors and businesses that are prepared to invest in Kifri and develop a relationship [with the district],” Shwan Jalal, a representative of the protestors, claimed.
He added that as the danger of COVID19 wanes, there will be a conference on developing the tourism sector to discuss how this industry can benefit from the three Kifri dams.
Although the first step has been taken toward completing preparations for the opening of the Kifri iron plant, it is unclear if it will meet the expectations of the district’s youths and protestors.
Hunar Mohammad, a businessman from Kifri, told Kirkuk Now, “I have land for commercial use, but I have been trying to get a license for a gas station for one year. I have gotten licenses from 11 offices, but the district commissioner won’t allow it.”
“There is a lot of obstacle, so we can’t build any gas stations, restaurant, or provide employment. If there were no obstacles, I could have created dozens of jobs.”
I could have create dozens of jobs
Hussein Ali, another business owner in Kifri, added that he is well aware of the district manager’s and protestors’ efforts and he hopes that these will ease restrictions: “I have a gas station and a garage and I want to open a big restaurant in the heart of Kifri on my own land. I even completed the design. But [the district] has created obstacles for me. Meanwhile, I could have created dozens of jobs.”
Besides work, protestors have demanded improvements to public services, housing, improvements and support for education and culture, and the development of the agricultural sector.
15 people represent the protestors on the committee and they have decided that if progress is forestalled on development plans, they will resume demonstrations.