CHP leader criticizes gov’t’s urban policies following building collapse
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has called out the Turkish government for building “nothing but high-rise buildings” and turning forests into “concrete jungles” throughout its 14-year tenure, following a building collapse in Istanbul which the opposition blames on illegal building practices.
“These enemies of green spaces are not building playgrounds. How could it be possible that people live in cities without seeing a single tree? Look at Istanbul. It’s just concrete. They even admit and say ‘we betrayed Istanbul,’ but still want to court votes,” Kılıçdaroğlu told his parliamentary group on Feb. 12.
“They say they cannot solve the traffic problem in Istanbul. So, why are they bothering to ask for the people’s votes?” he said.
The CHP leader’s criticisms come as Turkey heads to municipal elections slated for March 31. Kılıçdaroğlu vowed that they will win Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey’s two biggest metropoles run by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) mayors since 1994.
The CHP’s mayoral candidates for Istanbul and Ankara, Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş, will introduce a new understanding on how to make cities livable places, Kılıçdaroğlu said.
AKP official ‘complicit in building collapse tragedy’
Also speaking about the building collapse in Istanbul’s Kartal district on Feb. 6, the CHP leader accused an AKP official of being complicit in the death of 21 people who died trapped under the residential building.
“We know perfectly who illegally built the additional three floors on top of the building, but we opted to stay silent while our citizens were waiting to be rescued under the debris,” he said. “The man who allowed these three illegal floors is currently the mayor of Erzurum,” the CHP leader said, referring to Mehmet Sekmen, who previously was mayor of Kartal.
He said he was concerned that a lot more buildings could collapse and the aftermath could be disastrous in the event of an earthquake, which Istanbul awaits as it sits on several active fault lines.
Kılıçdaroğlu recalled the 1999 Gölcük earthquake, which measured 7.4 magnitude on the Richter scale, killing more than 17,000 people. “The AKP did nothing in 21 years since the earthquake,” he said.