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Tehran City Council Session Erupts Over Bus Contract With China

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Tehran City Council members clashed on Sunday over a contract for importing electric buses following the release of a report criticizing the deal’s lack of transparency.

Media activist Yashar Soltani had earlier exposed the two billion euro contract details on his website in which he revealed that the Chinese firm involved, a construction company founded in 2010, was ill-equipped for such a deal in public transportation.

Mehdi Eghrarian, a member of the council, raised concerns about the transparency and breadth of the contracts, questioning whether other agreements had been made with Chinese entities behind closed doors.

“Our question is whether, aside from equipment and public transport facilities, other contracts have also been signed in China or not? Are there other types of equipment currently being imported into the country?” Eghrarian inquired during the session.

During the session, seven council members walked out in protest while Tehran mayor Alireza Zakani was speaking.

Zakani has defended the contract, stating that all relevant authorities, including the ministry of industry, and the central bank, were informed about the specifics of the agreement.

Criticism from council members focused on the selection of the Chinese company and the haste with which the contract was finalized, bypassing the usual protocols. 

Narjes Soleimani, a city council member and daughter of slain IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani, questioned the prudence of selecting a limited liability construction firm as a financial and technological partner.

The dispute comes against the backdrop of frustrations with Tehran’s aging and insufficient public transport fleet, compounded by air pollution in the city.

Council member Mohammad Aghamiri commented last year on the state of the capital’s bus system, emphasizing the need for modernization and expansion to meet environmental and service standards.