TEHRAN, Feb. 19 (Press Shia Agency) – Parliament has been on active session beginning 14:00 local time to vote on Abbas Akhundi’s impeachment.

On morning open session, Abbas Akhundi defended his conduct as the Minister of Road and Urban Planning and session sojourned; on noon open session, Parliament is currently voting for or against him. If impeached, Akhundi was Rouhani’s 4th minister to lose his position within the last 9 months.

As part of his defense and in response to critics who demanded that Akhundi should have resigned, Minister of Road and Urban Planning said he had resigned at that time, but President Rouhani declined his resignation; “in a giant ministry as Road and Urban Planning, I would refer MPs to the ministry’s performance as my response to the impeachment during 3 past years. Impeachment in such a ministry could negatively hit large number of contractors and the staff alike; with 67,000 cadre personnel and 10,000 contractors and councilors, the ministry is a huge complex which should work in harmony and the impeachment should not affect their activity,” Akhundi told Parliament.

He lamented the lack of budget on construction projects which he believed was far less than which was necessary; “current projects and improvement of infrastructures needs $ 6.6bn which had been attracted from non-government sources; the ministry had added 5350km to the country’s roads, which exceeds that built in the past government,” he added. “In all plane and ship deals, we worked to secure best conditions for the country to receive brand-new products; in Mehr Housing Scheme, the government had but been imposed by the conditions to squander money far beyond what had been predicted; the ministry will work to ease pressures on government.”

Akhundi rejected criticisms that technical glitches contributed to Tabriz-Mashhad incident; “the major contractor of Tehran-Mashahd railroad ATC is a prestigious company and one of the 8 most successful companies on the planet; however, the incident negatively affected the prospects of future participation by the company,” he said.

“Ministry oil will participate in renewing the outdated railroad fleet by contributing a total of $ 10bn as part of the bonus the Ministry of Road receives for savings in energy consumption in motor vehicle; private sector will participate in developing Kerman-Sirjan railroad,” he continued. “In the past 17 years, Tehran-North highway building hardly proceeded 17 per cent, roughly 1 per cent annually; now in the current ministry, the work is underway in 110 sections of the highway and now 81 per cent of the projects had been done; around 8,000km of rural roads had been constructed and 10,000km of current gravel roads received asphalt pavement,” he added.

On airport, Akhundi told Parliament that 9 airports received investment; Imam Khomeni International Airport is a hub where private investment would turn the airport for a major passenger destination with its Salam Terminal ambitious enough to emulate world most advanced airport terminals; “Mehrabad Airport will be repaired and renewed in major parts; in Chabahar, development work is underway, with a railroad connecting the port to Iranshahr in inner part overland; now the project has a 50-per cent progress rate,” he said.

To MPs spoke against the impeachment; Gholamreza Tajgardoun, of Gachsaran constituency who hailed the apologies by the director of Iran’s Railroad Compnay at the time of incident; the second MP was Abolfazl Hassanbeigi of Damghan constituency who believed in Tabriz-Mashhad incident, human error was the major cause of the incident; he ruled out technical glitch as the primary investigations indicated.

SH