Lies about an accident
In Istanbul one month ago, on Feb. 27, an accident happened at around 17:30 during rush hour at the entrance to a metro station when commuters were making their way home after work.
The escalator at the Maslak-Ayazağa metro station, which is mostly used by “white-collar people” and students at the Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ), collapsed.
A man, identified as Mehmet Ali Erik, was swallowed by the escalator. Units responded to the incident and Erik was rescued after efforts that lasted for one hour. He was injured.
Reports quoted some eyewitnesses as saying that they did not see any warning signs and tens of people were using the escalator when the accident happened.
But the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB), which operates the metro system, told us a different story. In a statement, penned in a plain institutional language, the municipality said something which could be interpreted as: “I gave you a warning, man. You should not have taken the escalator.”
The municipality issued the following statement: “At 17:30 at the Maslak-Ayazağa Metro station, a person failed to notice the warning signs and took the escalator which was under maintenance. The steps of the escalator, which was not in service at that time, collapsed and the person was trapped under the stairs of the escalator.”
Anyone who read that statement naturally thought “why should the municipality lie? The person just ignored the warning and got himself into trouble. Thank God, something more serious was avoided anyway.”
However, CCTV footage released on March 26 caused confusion as to who was telling the truth.
The footage shows that tens of people were using the escalator and it suddenly started to move. We see that a gap opened up beneath Erik’s feet like a giant mouth. He then disappeared under the metal stairs of the escalator.
Erik perhaps did not make a bad decision by himself. He probably did not say to himself: “What malfunction? I can walk down this escalator.”
He was just more unfortunate than other people around him. The trap-like escalator only swallowed him.
In the footage it is also seen that just shortly before the accident some people removed the guard plate. But this does not mean there is no negligence. This does not justify the hastily made statement by the municipality which was not true.
Accident and truth
Negligence, irresponsible behavior, and people failing to do their jobs properly; all these, too, happen all the time.
The main point here is the fact that the İBB rushed to obscure and distort the truth. It wanted to avoid taking any responsibility in the accident by saying: “I did not do it. An irresponsible person did it.”
The important point here that needs to be underlined is the efforts aimed at making people forget about this “unpleasant incident” and efforts to move to protect those responsible.
What is the purpose of all this?
What’s the rush?
Is it really so difficult to say: “We are investigating the accident. We will identify those responsible. We apologize to all the people of Istanbul, especially to the person who was injured in the accident?”
Why avoid transparency? Why are you not being transparent with the “customers?”
On its website, Metro Istanbul, under its mission and vision section, lists five values: Commitment, integrity, ambition, change and courage.
What does integrity mean to the municipality?
“We know that the very fundamentals of business life rest upon integrity. We believe that it will bring us peace and prosperity to build what we do upon truths and our relations upon integrity.”
All looks cool on paper
All these look nice when they are written somewhere, but what about the truth?
What about the twisted reality of the incident in which the person was swallowed by the broken escalator?
Is this integrity?
We’d appreciate if they actually explained why they blamed the victim instead of telling the truth. We can finally make sense of it if we understand what they are hiding and why they need to hide behind a lie.
At least we will see some integrity.
Should we expect an apology?
Are we too naïve?