Domestic Economy

Urban Development Cooperation With France

Urban Development Cooperation With FranceUrban Development Cooperation With France

In a meeting between Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi and French Minister of Housing and Territorial Equality Sylvia Pinel on Wednesday, the two sides discussed cooperation in areas of housing and urban development.

Noting that Iran's land-use and urban planning are based on French models, Akhoundi said three French working groups are expected to visit Iran in the next two months to explore avenues of cooperation, IRNA reported.

"We have prepared a comprehensive plan on housing, decentralization, mass housing, urban development and public transport and we welcome the exchange of views and experience with other countries in this regard," said Akhoundi.

The French minister elaborated on her government's plans in the areas of social housing, urban renewal, housing funds and urban structure, and expressed readiness to collaborate with Iran within the scope of her ministry.

The meeting took place during Akhoundi's three-day visit to France at the invitation of the French government to attend the 51st International Paris Air Show, aimed at meeting international plane manufacturers to discuss sales of commercial aircraft to Iran and invite foreign investors to contribute to development projects in the country.

> Increasing Number of Direct Flights

The Iranian minister also met with French Secretary of State for Transport, Marine Affairs and Fisheries Alain Vidalies and the two discussed increasing the number of direct flights between Iran and France.

Noting that the number of international flights passing over Iran's airspace has "more than doubled over the past one year," the minister emphasized the need to improve Iran's air transport fleet and facilities to cater to the growing needs of air passengers.

He said Iran has prepared a 10-year program to expand and renovate its air fleet.

"Purchasing 400 new aircraft within the next 10 years and increasing the number of international flights, including with France, is inevitable for achieving these objectives," he added.

Akhoundi, also briefed his French counterpart about domestic transport infrastructure projects, including development of Imam Khomeini International Airport and turning it into an airport city, construction of new airports across the country and development of national railroad network. He invited French companies to collaborate with Iran for the development of these projects.

Establishing a 400-kilometer high-speed railroad passing through Tehran, Imam Khomeini Airport, Qom and Isfahan, electrification of Tehran-Mashhad rail line, increasing the share of railroad in cargo transport from the current 5% to at least 18% and investing $25 billion toward the development of railroad network were among plans mentioned by the road minister for the next 10 years.

"Iran also plans to purchase 165,000 new trucks within the next five years," said the minister, noting that the average age of the 127,000 trucks on Iran's roads is 25 years, resulting in high fuel consumption.

Vidalies welcomed expansion of cooperation with Iran in the areas of air, sea, road and rail transport. He also stressed the French government's support to French companies for establishing and strengthening business relations with Iran.

Development and modernization of air, rail and road transport vehicles has been on the road ministry's agenda since the government of President Hassan Rouhani assumed office in 2013.  

Addressing a conference at the International Diplomatic Academy in Paris, the road minister spoke of $80 billion worth of potential investment in Iran's transport sector, including $25 billion toward the purchase of new airplanes, $25 billion for improving rail infrastructure and $30 billion for roads and motorways.

> PIARC Shares Experience

The Office of Partnership and Investments at the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development hosted members of finance and investment committee of the Permanent International Association of Road Congresses on Tuesday for sharing experiences with some of the world's developed nations regarding financing and investment in road transport.

"Iran needs a total of $3 billion annually to expand its road network, including roads, freeways and highways," said Meqdad Rahimian, an official with the Roads Ministry, IRNA reported.

Experts from Spain, Italy and Austria participated in the meeting and shared their know-how on building freeways and highways through the private sector.

PIARC was founded in 1909, following the first international road congress held in Paris. It is an intercontinental forum for the discussion of all aspects of roads and road networks bringing together the road administrations of 122 governments and has members—individuals, companies, authorities and organizations—in over 140 countries.

Its 2012-15 Strategic Plan sets the organizational structure of the 17 technical committees according to four strategic themes: management and performance, access and mobility, safety, and infrastructure.

Iran's representative in the association is deputy minister of roads and urban development, Davoud Keshavarzian, who was appointed last September by Akhondi.

The conclusions of the conference held on June 14-15 will be presented to members at the 25th World Road Congress, which is to be held in Seoul, South Korea, November 2-6, 2015.

Currently, the country's freeways stretch out 2,365 kilometers, which should exceed 10,000 kilometers by 2025 as per the 20-Year Vision Plan, said Rahimian.

The currently 14,541 kilometers of highway in the country is also planned to expand to more than 30,000 kilometers.

"That is to say annually 700 km of new freeways and 400 km of highways must be built and inaugurated annually," Rahimian stressed.