Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during a ceremony to launch 758 new city buses in Istanbul, Oct. 12. AA photo
Istanbul residents should review their car usage and start using more public transports, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
advised on Oct. 12 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 each year Istanbul’s already congested roads.
“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. But because of imported vehicles and fuel, serious amounts of money goes abroad, leading the deficit to grow,” Erdoğan said.
He said the exceptional traffic jams of the last few weeks were “temporary” due to the freight shipment ahead of the Feast of Sacrifice, emphasizing however that Turkey did not have the luxury of relying excessively on private transportation.
“A modern city is not one where the transport is mainly carried out by private vehicles, but one where it is operated by public vehicles,” Erdoğan said.
The prime minister also defended an idea that he suggested while he was the mayor of Istanbul, consisting of setting entry fees for vehicles of non-residents.
“[At the time] they said that [Erdoğan] was banning people to come to Istanbul. But anyone cannot enter the city center of London as he wants,” he said defending the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) record in developing the public transportation system.
“Were there tunnels before we came to power? Or the metro? Or metrobuses? Air-conditioned buses?” he asked.
Erdoğan vowed that the major public transport projects currently underway, such as the third bridge on the Bosphorus or a new car tunnel built near the Marmaray tube project, will be finished in 2015. He added that the preparations to build the controversial Istanbul canal, declared as “the crazy project,” are also ongoing and the construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
“The project is ready, the itinerary is ready,” Erdoğan said.