EghtesadOnline: On average, vehicles used for public transportation in the northwestern province of East Azarbaijan are over two decades old and do not meet safety standards, head of the local Public Transportation Guild said.
Naser Helali told Mehr News Agency 40,000 cars, buses, and minibuses are used for public transport in the province, from which 800 are dilapidated and should be sent to the junkyard.
“More than 32,000 of these vehicles were made more than two decades ago and have been used non-stop for the past 19 years,” Helali said.
“Most vehicles spew poison into the air,” he said, underlining the heavy human and environmental costs of keeping the clunkers on the roads, Financial Tribune reported.
The transportation fleet is in dire need of rehabilitation, he stressed. “If the vehicles cannot be replaced, at least they must be repaired,” he complained.
Helali said during the first half of the current fiscal that started in March, the crippled fleet with no relationship to the bare minimum safety standards has claimed the lives of more than 145 drivers in road accidents.
Based on data released by the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization on road traffic fatalities, 439 traffic-related deaths were registered in the province during the period -- over 33% of victims were drivers of public transport vehicles.
Need for Early Action
The guild member urged urban authorities to take action for renovating the old fleet. “If measures are not taken soon, more innocent lives will be lost to road accidents.”
According to observers, given the state of the economy, it is uncertain whether the government or the provincial authorities would be able to afford the much-needed renovation scheme.
Furthermore, local auto companies output has been declining over the past several months. During the one month period ending on Nov. 21, only 1 bus was made in Iran down from 163 units made in the same period last year.
This is while the rial has lost much of its value and the country cannot afford to import new buses in large numbers. Some economic experts have suggested that importing secondhand vehicles could be an option.
The national currency has lost 60% of its value in the past eight months. On Saturday, the US dollar was traded at 100,000 rials in Tehran. The greenback was fetching 160,000 to 180,000 rials several weeks earlier. In March it hardly sold for 42,000 rials.