Locals living on route of third Bosphorus bridge unsure about future
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 4/30/2010 12:00:00 AM | SEVİM SONGÜN
Residents of the two villages recently announced as the locations for the third bridge across Istanbul's Bosphorus Strait have mixed feelings about what the new span will mean for them. While some look forward to new business opportunities the bridge may bring, others fear the destruction of the natural beauty and peace and quiet they cherish
Tranquility or economic opportunity is the stark choice facing residents of the two areas that will be most affected by construction of the third bridge over Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait.
The government announced the route of the new bridge during a press conference Thursday, leaving local residents unsure about the effects the span will have on their future, with some fearing sleepless nights and the end of long, peaceful evenings spent sipping tea by the water.
Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım announced that “the new bridge will be in the region of the Garipçe and Poyrazköy villages,” both located at the strait’s northern entrance and largely populated by people who moved there many years ago from provinces in the Black Sea region.
Garipçe, located at the northern end of Istanbul’s Sarıyer district, on the city’s European side, is a typical Black Sea village. The houses are no more than two stories tall and are filled with fresh air blown in by the winds off the Black Sea. The village has a view of both the Bosphorus and the entrance of Black Sea; the only noise is the sound of waves and the engines of small fishing boats.
İsmail Aydoğdu, the chef at one of the handful of fish restaurants in Garipçe, said he could not foresee whether residents would benefit from a third bridge. “We will wait and see; we do not know exactly where it will pass,” Aydoğdu, who has worked at the restaurant for the last four years, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
“If more visitors come here after the bridge [is built], it will be good for our business. But if the nature and forests are harmed due to the construction of roads and the bridge, it will be disadvantageous for us,” he said. “We get business thanks to this natural beauty.”
Some Garipçe locals believe the bridge will have no effect on their lives. Fisherman Süleyman Bayrakçı said the bridge will not pass through the center of the village and thus will bring neither advantages nor disadvantages.
Other residents, however, are worried about the future of their village life.
“This is an old fishing village. Our ancestors migrated here from Trabzon province in the Black Sea region,” fisherman Zeki Bayram, 45, told the Daily News. Bayram expressed his unhappiness with the government’s decision, saying Garipçe will lose its quietness and natural fabric.
“We can experience a life in a village, in a town and a metropolitan city at the same time,” he said. “This is an untouched village and we are close to the city center and towns. But we will no longer be able to have this untouched nature.”
Garipçe has been accepted as a natural site and construction in and around the village, including where the forests are located, is banned by law. Many villagers agree that this ban is a major problem, as it causes young people to move outside the village.
“I have two single sons and I cannot dare to marry them off. I have land here, but cannot built a house for my sons because of the construction ban,” said Nahit Kocaali, a fisherman from Garipçe village.
The village has some restaurants along its shores that serve breakfast in the mornings and fish in the evenings. Although Garipçe is silent on weekdays, it is enlivened on weekends by visitors coming from the city center – a change not appreciated by all residents.
“I cannot even drive to the teahouse during weekends,” Kocaali said, pointing to the two-story teahouse located on the shores of the village.
Mustafa Hendem, another fisherman drinking tea at the teahouse, said many wooden houses in the area have been abandoned by their owners since they cannot get permission to renovate these homes. “These houses are being left to rot. We even have to get permission to paint our houses,” Hendem said, blaming the authorities for ignoring the villagers’ problems for many years.
Across the Bosphorus from Garipçe, Poyrazköy is also a fishing town largely populated by villagers whose ancestors migrated there from a Black Sea province, in this case Rize, around 200 years ago, locals say.
Poyrazköy is larger than Garipçe, but it is still a small town with a pier for fishing boats. Though many visitors come in the summertime, attracted by its small, clean beach, fishing is still the main source of income for local residents.
Villagers in Poyrazköy expressed more positive sentiments about what the third bridge would bring, with many saying that increasing the number of visitors to the town would boost their businesses.
“If the bridge has a connection road to our town, our business may increase,” said Hakan Ersoy, a 33-year-old fisherman living in Poyrazköy.
İhsan Türkmen, a member of the village head office in Poyrazköy, agreed that the bridge would bring benefits to the town. “This route offers less cost since there is more land owned by the state here,” Türkmen told the Daily News.
Boat-maker Selahattin Saruhan, 60, said the third bridge will not have any effect on Poyrazköy, but added that he supports it anyway, since he believes it will be good for the country.
Others locals in Poyrazköy, however, share their Garipçe counterparts’ concerns that nature will be damaged due to the bridge construction. According to Önder Bakırcı, the owner of a market that has a view of the Bosphorus, many rich people have already bought property in the area. He said nature would not be protected once construction on the third bridge begins.