Istanbul’s ‘holiday exodus’ locks roads over weekend
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Metropolitan cities of Turkey finally breath a sigh of relief with the arrival of Eid al-Adha after nearly two weeks of heavy traffic jams that left locals furious and desparate. The authorities admit the ‘extraordinary’ traffic failure, particularly in Istanbul, but maintain that it is temporary. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELIstanbul’s notorious traffic reached new proportions of chaos over the weekend’s rush hours as the nine-day-long Feast of the Sacrifice holiday began in Turkey and nearly 1.5 million of Istanbul residents hit the roads.
With traffic jams as long as 10 kilometers, vehicles lined up before the European Transit Motorway (TEM) ticket offices, the passage through which was became free of charge during the holiday. Some reports said people waited for some seven hours to leave Istanbul.
The bus tickets from Istanbul to Anatolian provinces, especially southern parts, sold out.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 12 said the exceptional traffic jams of the last few weeks were “temporary” due to the freight shipment ahead of the Feast of the Sacrifice, emphasizing however that Turkey did not have the luxury of relying excessively on private transportation.
Erdoğan advised Istanbul residents to review their car usage and start using more public transports during a ceremony to launch 758 new city buses in the Turkish metropolis.
“We are not a country that is rich, particularly with respect to fuel. We don’t possess oil wells. So we have to seriously put saving on transport costs on our agenda. If we change our habits, the country, Istanbul, the environment and families will be able to mutually benefit,” Erdoğan said, stressing that 350,000 new cars hit Istanbul’s already congested roads each year.
“I hope that you will reconsider your relationship with your vehicles. The Treasury of the State is content beyond measure that so many cars are sold and fuel consumed, in terms of taxes.” Erdoğan said.