The houses built by [ordinary] people in the earthquake-stricken Sarpol-e Zahab region have remained standing while the government built residential complexes next to them have easily collapsed, President Hassan Rouhani regretfully told his cabinet Wednesday, November 15, concluding, “That indicates corruption in constructing residential buildings under the government supervision”.
President Rouhani was referring to thousands of apartments built by his predecessor’s government, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to provide cheap residences for people with low income.
During Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency, when oil prices were high, tens of thousands of public housing units called Mehr, meaning “affection” were built. These are apartment buildings made of pre-fab concrete panels, much like Soviet era basic residences.
Meanwhile, Rouhani described prevention and preparation for confronting earthquakes as a “collective duty”, reporting that nearly 30,000 residential units that were demolished by 7.3 magnitude Sunday earthquake in western province of Kermanshah, in Iran, should be repaired or totally rebuilt.
Rouhani, back from visiting the quake-stricken districts, reiterated, “The ease with which some state-built homes collapsed in Sunday’s earthquake in western Iran showed corrupt practices during construction”.
Reportedly, many Iranians have echoed the same conclusion, accusing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of sloppiness in approving contracts for building “Mehr” residential units.
"It's clear there has been corruption in construction contracts," Rouhani said.
Sarpol-e Zahab is the town hardest hit by Sunday's 7.3 magnitude quake, the deadliest in Iran in more than a decade.
A picture widely circulated by ordinary Iranians on social media shows a building with relatively little damage in Sarpol-e Zahab next to a heavily damaged government-constructed building.
Rouhani had said on Tuesday that any shortcomings in government constructed buildings in the earthquake zone will be punished.
Mohammad Hossein Sadeghi, the prosecutor general in Kermanshah, the largest city in the earthquake zone, said on Wednesday that the quality of government construction would be investigated and charges may be brought against anyone deemed responsible.
An arrest warrant has been issued for a contractor responsible for a recently built hospital which was heavily damaged, parliament member said on Tuesday, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).