Iran is grappling with an alarming trend of people stealing road signs and safety fixtures on the roads, amounting to up to two million dollars annually.
Reza Akbari, the deputy of the Road and Transportation Organization, revealed the statistics in a statement to the ILNA news agency on Saturday.
Akbari disclosed that a significant portion of the stolen equipment, including safety signs, finds its way to scrapyards, with the possibility of contractors themselves being implicated in the thefts. He highlighted that a concerning number of items are pilfered by low-income individuals, often grappling with addiction.
The issue has been on the radar for some time, as Akbari had previously drawn attention to the rising trend of road equipment theft in Iran. He emphasized the difficulty in imposing penalties on thieves, who belong to impoverished segments of society.
"Such thefts extend beyond the country's roads and are notably higher in cities, particularly Tehran," Akbari asserted.
In addition to the thefts plaguing road infrastructure, recent years have witnessed a surge in reports of power outages and disruptions attributed to the theft of power cables. Observers link the disturbing trend to the increasing spread of poverty.
The situation has escalated with reports of thefts extending to crucial items like water pipes, exacerbating crises such as lack of water.
Official figures from the interior ministry indicate that approximately 60 percent of Iran's 84 million population live below the relative poverty line. Between 20 to 30 million Iranians find themselves in a state of "absolute poverty."