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EghtesadOnline: Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi has called on the administration to reduce top-down interventions aimed at solving challenges facing major metropolitan areas and to instead engage the public more to overcome them.

“In my opinion, we must involve our citizens in our policymaking and remove the government’s desire to meddle in people’s lives,” Akhoundi was also quoted as saying by the official news website of Bank Maskan, the agent bank of the housing sector.

The minister was delivering a speech at the inauguration ceremony for the new CEO of the New Towns Development Company affiliated with the ministry.

Referring to his own experience of more than four decades in policy matters, Akhoundi said he has come to the conclusion that ultimately, “the true work of development is done by increasing the capabilities and capacities of citizens”.

“No government can become a substitute for its people, because they are the ones who must take charge of their own lives,” Financial Tribune also quoted him as saying.

For instance, Akhoundi added, when the administration embarks on a plan to build about two million residential units without consulting the public regarding their location, construction or architecture, no suitable outcome can be expected.

He was referring to the controversial Mehr Housing Project that was initiated during the tenure of the former administration with the aim of engaging in mass-building efforts to address the needs of the people living in poor housing conditions.

Mehr residential units were often built at remote locations, while as a number of officials have already conceded, they were not built with high quality materials.

Pointing to the difficulties faced by people living on the outskirts of cities and those living in distressed urban areas, Akhoundi said another major problem in the housing sector pertains to 19 million residents in neglected zones who account for almost a quarter of the nation’s population.

The minister noted that as urban challenges are complex and deep rooted, they require policymakers to seek the help of pundits and experts to do away with a slogan-oriented approach to get to the core of the issue.

As to the problems persisting in urban areas, he said they originate from “imbalance” in the distribution of population over the past decades.

In a trend that has only exacerbated in the past 70 years, Akhoundi concluded that people have rushed to major urban centers, many have opted or been forced to live on the outskirts and a lack of attention to reinvigoration of cities has only served to accelerate the rate at which urbanization is expanding.


Abbas Akhoundi Iran Urban Woes Iran urban challenges