3 December 2018

Tunisia: launching of the Urban Mobility National Policy

A commitment at the highest level

The Tunisian Government has commited itself in an ambitious updating of the Urban Mobility National Policy (PNMU). The MobiliseYourCity Partnership supports the initiative and provides international experts to assist the Tunisian Ministry of Transport, project leader, as well as the relevant skateholders in the implementation of the process.

For the launching of the process, all mobility stakeholders in Tunisian cities were invited to workshops organised by the Ministry of Transport, under the guidance of the Head of Government, on Friday 19 October 2018 in Gammarth.

This one-day meeting allowed us to provide a review of urban mobility in the country and to identify the main technical, insitutional and financial challenges to be met in the future, in a spirit of consultation and cooperation.

Four successive workshops were organised, on the following topics:

  • urban roads and traffic
  • urban public transport
  • urban mobility governance
  • urban mobility financing

During each workshop, participants were first invited to review the recent evolution of the situation in order to identify the main problems, issues or potentials for improvement while respecting the diversity of views. Then they were invited to formulate and discuss strategic objectives that may be adopted for the coming years, integrating, in the best possible way, orientations resulting from earlier considerations.

The program of the day

– Welcome adresses and introduction by:

  • the Minister of Transport
  • the Minister of Information Technologies and Digital Economy
  • the counselor to the Government in charge of monitoring project and public programs
  • the Director of the French Development Agency office in Tunis

– Objectives and activities of the day by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Transport

– Urban mobility in Tunisia, findings and prospectives by a Transitec/Sides consultant

– Sharing workshops and debates on the 4 selected topics with all participants

A one-day event for discussion to produce shared conclusions

The debates on roads and traffic management mainly addressed four sub-themes: (i) the lack of appropriate alternatives to the private car, (ii) the degradation of the public transport supply, (iii) the low degree of importance given to soft transport modes, and (iiii) malfunctions due to road geometries (traffic, parking, sidewalks, etc.). A strong link has been highlighted between the growing and costly dominance of the private car on one hand and the ever more obvious urban sprawl, the low attractiveness of public transport and the lack of soft modes facilities (walking, cycling) on the other hand. It has been pointed that today the public transport – the regular one in particular – does not offer to the users a quality of service which would make it possible to compete with the private car, seen as the only attractive option.

Interesting elements that could be used for example by the public authorities who are currently planning an enterprise sector reform emerged during discussions with the audience. The discussions focused on three topics: (i) the current crisis of public enterprises, (ii) the need to restructure and reform these enterprises, (iii) the need for recourse to private operators to reduce transportation costs; and (iiii) the need to change pricing to reduce the financial burden on the state budget. The attractiveness and performance of urban public transport are not satisfactory for the user. This finding is clearly shared by all and the seriousness of the situation of the public companies was underlined by many participants.

The establishment of the Regional Authorities Organizing Mobilities (the AROTT in the Act 2004-33) has been the subject of pilot projects in Sfax and Tunis for some years now. However, their installation is struggling to come to fruition due to lack of an appropriate institutional framework and financial and human resources. The publication in 2018 of the new Local Government Code makes it necessary to ask new questions of coherence and coordination at the level of competences. The debates on the governance of urban mobility focused on three of the four themes proposed in the introductory presentation, namely: (i) the sharing of responsibilities between the state and local communities and institutional issues at the local level (ii) the tools of governance, and (iii) the development of human resources. The issue of porting urban mobility at the national level and maximizing state investment in the sector has not really been addressed.

Finally, the debates on the financing of urban transport mainly addressed three themes, namely: (i) social equity, (ii) public service and (iii) the structural crisis of transport companies. At a general level, the notion of public transport as a service accessible to all and the need to find new resources for transport have been the subject of many remarks. The participants talked about avenues such as program-contracts, employers’ contributions and a puncture on property valuation.

A phase of consultation and co-construction to come

In order to work in a concerted manner to revise the National Urban Mobility Policy in Tunisia, the Ministry of Transport is leading the creation of a Working Group that brings together the Directors-General from the Ministries that are members of the Strategic Committee:

  • Minister of Transport ;
  • Minister of Equipment, Housing and Territorial Development ;
  • Minister of Energy, Mines and Renewable Energy ;
  • Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation ;
  • Minister of Finances ;
  • Minister of the Interior ;
  • Minister of Local Business and Environment.

The first meeting of the working group is scheduled for mid-December 2018 and will allow the launch of the work.