Quake-hit businesses on the eve of going belly up

Quake-hit businesses on the eve of going belly up

VAN - Anatolia News Agency
Quake-hit businesses on the eve of going belly up

Nearly half of the 60,000 bee hives in the eastern province of Van were destroyed after the Oct 23 earthquake and aftershocks. Businesses in Van are struggling to recover. AA photo

Local merchants and businesses in earthquake-struck Van are on the brink of bankruptcy following two devastating temblors in October and November, according to reports.

If Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek does not accept the Van Chamber of Commerce’s emergency aid plan, all local merchants could face bankruptcy by as early as February, as those who fled Van are not expected to return before June given the prevailing seasonal weather conditions, Van Chamber of Commerce (VATSO) Chairman Mirza Nadiroğlu said.

Approximately 400,000 locals have fled the eastern province for more western provinces since the quakes, leaving the city as a ghost town in their wake, according to Anatolia news agency.
Van’s well-to-do segment has been the hardest hit, Nadiroğlu said.

Before the earthquake, real estate prices were on an upward trend and there were many projects in the pipeline, he said, adding that everything had now lost its value and that labels and brands were no longer what they were. “Apartments worth 300,000 Turkish Liras before the earthquake are now worthless. Banks are no longer accepting houses as security without a report stating that the dwelling is habitable,” said Nadiroğlu.

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Oct. 23 killed over 600 and left thousands homeless while an aftershock on Nov. 9 killed 40 more.

VATSO has turned to the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) for help. TOBB has responded by wiring Turkey’s İşbank 25 million liras to go toward loans for merchants. Small-time merchants will be able to borrow 30,000 liras in one year without interest and larger merchants will be able to take out 100,000 in loans without interest.

“Even if it’s just a little bit, TOBB has stood behind us,” said Nadiroğlu, adding that still, he felt TOBB should do more. “Our people are desperate and bankrupt. If they aren’t going to back us up now, then when are they ever going to back us up?”

Nadiroğlu also said he thought it would take Van 15 years to recover from the earthquake damage.