TEHRAN (Iran News) – In his first provincial visit as president, Ayatollah Seyed Ebrahim Raisi traveled to the southwestern province of Khuzestan where he underlined the need to immediately address the challenges facing this strategically important province.
The visit came weeks after the oil-rich Khuzestan was rocked by a wave of protests over water shortages.
Upon his arrival at Ahwaz’s General Ghasem Soleimani Airport, Ayatollah Raisi said, “I intended to make a visit to the province sooner, but because of the amount of work I had for establishing the government, I wasn’t able to,” according to a statement by the Iranian presidency.
“Khuzestan province has very good people, and they have done their best to defend the country at different times, and we owe them a great deal,” he said.
Emphasizing that the government has a duty towards all the people of the country, the president added, “We have additional responsibilities to the people of Khuzestan, and God willing, we will be able to solve some of the problems of this province during this visit, which is a short one.”
Ayatollah Raisi added, “I was very interested in meeting with the good people of the province, but due to the problem of corona and the need to follow health protocols, public meetings are not possible, but in brief meetings with various administrative departments of the province, I will learn more about the problems of Khuzestan.”
The president emphasized, “In this trip, we will consult with the ministers and provincial officials to find appropriate solutions to solve the problems of the province quickly, and appropriate decisions will be designed and adopted.”
Ayatollah Raisi pointed out, “All my concern and that of the people’s government is to solve the problems of all the people of the country, especially this province, with the participation of the people themselves, and I have no doubt that many of these problems will be solved thanks to God.”
The ministers of energy, interior, agriculture jihad, health, and the head of the Plan and Budget Organization accompanied the president on the one-day trip.
During his unexpected visit, Ayatollah Raisi instructed the immediate elimination of medical and health deficiencies, including increasing hospital beds, providing oxygen to medical centers and also meeting the needs of the intensive care unit.
The instruction was issued during a visit to the COVID-19 section of the Razi Hospital in Ahwaz on Friday morning.
The president also instructed the interior minister at the Razi Hospital in Ahwaz to make the necessary follow-up in order to make more use of the capacity of the armed forces’ medical centers to hospitalize COVID-19 patients.
During the visit, Ayatollah Raisi praised and thanked the health care staff as well as the seminary students at Razi Hospital in Ahwaz who had come to fight the disease in a jihadist move.
The president also attended the gathering of the patients’ families and also met with the patients at different sections, followed up on their problems and issued special orders.
On Friday morning, immediately after arriving in Ahwaz, Ayatollah Raisi visited one of sewage projects of Ahwaz and visited different parts of the complex and was briefed on the ongoing measures to solve the city’s sewage problem.
During the visit, a complete report on the various stages of the project, including the construction of tunnels, pumping stations, etc., was presented to the president.
Ayatollah Raisi also convened a meeting of the province’s Administrative Council. During the meeting, he was briefed on the challenges currently facing the oil-rich province.
Referring to the reports provided by the managers about the problems of Khuzestan province and the measures taken to solve these problems, the President said, “Solving the problems of Khuzestan requires a jihadist spirit, and additional work must be done in the province.”
Speaking on Friday night in the meeting of the Administrative Council of Khuzestan province, Ayatollah Raisi described defining a short-term plan to solve problems necessary and urgent and said, “Provincial managers should predict what actions we should take to solve problems as soon as possible.”
He stressed that “we must work around the clock to compensate for the backwardness,” emphasizing, “This can be done with a spirit of jihad and mobilization, and we must act like the era of Holy Defense to remove obstacles and problems.”
The president went on to say that solving the problems of the province requires that the managers be located in the province and that work is not done with flight managers.
Ayatollah Raisi said, “Supervision, especially internal supervision with the eyes of the managers of the province should always be on the agenda.”
He also said solving the unemployment problem in Khuzestan is among other important issues on the agenda of his government. “We support any plan aimed at creating employment in the province.”
Referring to the great potential of Khuzestan province in the field of agriculture, the president said, “This province plays a leading role in agriculture in many sectors, and special attention should be paid to the province’s agriculture, and this sector is one of the important areas for creating employment.”
Ayatollah Raisi said, “The empty capacities that exist in the industries of the province are very important for creating employment and these capacities should be activated.”
Referring to the need to pay attention to downstream petrochemical industries in order to increase employment, he said, “Downstream petrochemical industries have both high added value and capacity to increase employment and we should try not to sell raw materials in the petrochemical field and this is one of the necessities that should be strengthened in Khuzestan province.”
Regarding the revitalization of 550,000 hectares of land in the province, which was emphasized by the Leader, the president said, “No action has been taken yet regarding a significant part of this land, and I ask the first vice president to work with the relevant officials in this regard.”
Referring to the water problem in the province, Ayatollah Raisi stated, “I consider the main problem of water to be its optimal management and it must be followed carefully. In this regard, the Supreme Council of Water can solve the problem of many areas.”
The president added, “The agricultural union is one of the arms of the government. They must be consulted in decision-making, and they themselves can pursue many things.”
Referring to the water supply and sewerage project in Khuzestan province in general and in Ahwaz in particular, he said, “This is one of our priority issues that must be pursued quickly.”
The president also pointed to the need to speed up the vaccination process, saying, “This is a very serious issue. The import and production of vaccines must be done quickly and accurately, and the channels that want to import vaccines must be fully trusted.”
He said, “I emphasize to the ministers and managers of the province that the issues of Khuzestan are not issues that can be delayed. No delay is allowed in this case and it is necessary for managers to work seriously with double motivation.”
The president pointed out, “The resolutions that we had in the meeting will be followed up by the presidential office, everyone should follow carefully so that the effects of this trip and this meeting appear quickly in the lives of the people of the province and people feel that something has happened.”
Ayatollah Raisi emphasized, “The operation and implementation of promises and approvals in our government is an important issue that we are determined to report to the people on the actions taken.”
Raisi’s visit to Khuzestan was hailed as a brave move given the dire outbreak of Convid-19 among the people of the province. But this was not the first time Ayatollah Raisi has visited Ahwaz. During his election campaign, he was one of the few candidates to visit the provincial capital.