Iranian celebrities use ambulances illegally to beat traffic, doctor says

Harriet Williamson
Iranian celebrities and private tutors are illegally using ambulances to avoid traffic jams in the capital: AFP/Getty Images

In Iran, riding ambulances has become popular among the richest section of the population, who want to avoid traffic queues and get to where they’re going as quickly as possible.

The head of the private ambulance services of the Islamic Republic has admitted that both film stars and wealthy private tutors are using medical vehicles in this way.

On Tuesday, Dr Mojtaba Lohrasbi told the Iran Student News Agency (ISNA): ‘Police forces in Tehran are so busy that they have not been able to cooperate for ending the illegal trend’.

Lohrasbi stressed that riding ambulances for the sole purpose of avoiding traffic jams is ‘not limited’ to celebrities and private tutors, but did not elaborate on other groups who might also be using medical transportation in this way.

Private ambulances in Iran, like the UK, are run according to strict regulations, and no ambulance is allowed to travel ‘without specific and dated medical assignments or without carrying sick and injured passengers’.

In his interview, Lohrasbi did not explain why these regulations are not currently being enforced, except to say that police forces are ‘extensively busy’.

However, he remarked that the problem is not as severe as some might present it.

In Iran, private tutors are paid high wages to prepare students for university entrance exams and national tests. Tutors have been identified as the most prolific illegal users of ambulances.

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Social media users have expressed their bafflement and disgust at the trend, with one Twitter user writing: ‘In Iran everything is upside down, mullahs are scholars, scholars are unemployed, apologists are FMs, ambulances are vip taxis, taxies are hotels.’

The Prosecutor-General of Tehran has issued an order to end the wrongful use of ambulances.