İdris Emen – ISTANBUL
Earth-moving trucks and concrete mixers have killed 24 people, including six children, over the past year on Istanbul’s roads.
Such vehicles have become an inescapable reality of the city and appear at almost every street corner due to the high number of urban transformation projects and other construction works throughout Istanbul. However, their drivers often cause outrage for not abiding by traffic rules and exceeding speed limits.
In the past three months alone, heavy earth moving vehicles have taken three lives in the city, prompting the Northern Forest Defense (KOS), an Istanbul-based environmentalist group, to conduct research on the high number of deaths.
“Earth-moving trucks and concrete mixers have killed 24 of our people aged between five and 85 in the past year on urban roads that they are supposed to be banned from entering. A large number of the accidents caused by the earth-moving trucks and concrete mixers were caused by blind spots that the drivers of these vehicles could not see. For this reason, the drivers responsible were only given low punishments and many of them received no penalty at all,” the KOS stated in its report.
“The authorities should ban all earth-moving trucks and concrete mixers from entering the city apart from at night when there are fewer people on the streets,” it added.
Earth-moving trucks and concrete mixers are actually already forbidden from hitting the roads in Turkish cities between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. But because of extensive construction works upending daily life in all corners of the city, it is possible to see these vehicles at every hour of the day.
Chairman of the board of the Istanbul Chamber of Civil Engineers, Cemal Gökçe, told daily Hürriyet that the authorities should conduct inspections of these heavy equipment vehicles more often to avoid such deadly accidents.
“[Drivers of] earth-moving trucks work on a premium basis. They earn more money if they carry more materials. As a result, such trucks tend to exceed speed limits. If concrete mixers cannot deliver concrete to construction sites in under two-and-half-hours after loading it, the concrete loses its character. This is why concrete mixers drivers exceed speed limits,” Gökçe said.
“This problem can be addressed if concrete is acquired from the firm that is closest to the construction site, or if dry matter can be used in the concrete as previously. But above all serious inspections need to be conducted regarding both earth-moving trucks and concrete mixers,” he added.
The family of a nine-year-old boy, Volkan Beyhan, who was killed in 2006 by an earth-moving truck that was reversing on a vehicle-free road, previously brought a lawsuit against the Istanbul mayor’s office, the Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (İSKİ), a firm called “MCC Consortium,” and the Ministry of Defense, demanding 250,000 Turkish Liras in compensation for mental anguish.
A court handed down a sentence of five years to the truck’s driver, Bekir Aluçlu, but the punishment was converted to fine of 36,500 liras which was then paid in 20 installments.
The boy’s father İbrahim Halil Beyhan protested against only the driver receiving a punishment and therefore filed legal complaints against the aforementioned institutions on four different occasions, but his complaint was turned down every time.