Snow caught Istanbul by surprise, says mayor
AA PhotoIstanbul was beset by weather-related problems Dec. 20 due to a radical drop in temperature, as well as earlier-than-expected snowfall, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş has said.
“We had all those difficulties for these reasons but this will not reoccur, I would like you to know,” Topbaş said at a press conference Dec. 21 following a visit to Istanbul’s Disaster Coordination Center (AKOM).
“Due to 344 traffic accidents and congestion on the road, northern districts like Sarıyer, Beykoz, Arnavutköy and Beylikdüzü suffered severe traffic problems. The snowfall most adversely affected the Madenler neighborhood in Sarıyer district’s Kilyos area, where the thickness of the snow reached 40 centimeters. Today [Dec. 21], there is no problem in Istanbul either in terms of snow or traffic; our operations to fight the snowfall lasted until the morning with 250 vehicles and 1,300 staff,” he said.
He also said the municipality possessed enough equipment to fight the snow while elaborating on the operations the municipality conducted Dec. 20.
“Some 305 homeless people were given shelter at the Metin Oktay Sports Facilities. Nineteen trees and five roof tops collapsed in the snowstorm. And the thickness of the snow reached 30 centimeters in Kemerburgaz, Arnavutköy, Çamlıca and Başakşehir, while there was 40 centimeters in Beykoz, Çatalca, Riva and Bahçeköy. The fundamental reason for traffic problems on the Beylikdüzü-Haramidere line was traffic accidents,” he said.
Topbaş said that due to heavy traffic and violations of the security lane, snow-fighting teams could not reach their destinations in time, causing severe delays that negatively affected everyone. The mayor added that regulations requiring taxis to put on snow tires during wintry weather should also be extended to normal private cars.
Topbaş also expressed his gratitude to the Istanbul Governor’s Office for canceling school, reducing traffic on the roads.
Asked about the problems on the metrobus, Topbaş said the metrobuses were operating beyond their capacity, meaning that any small accident could paralyze the whole line. “For the line to be able to operate more efficiently, there must be two lanes in both directions, while currently there is only one lane in each direction. The only solution to that will be a more developed underground system, and frankly speaking, we are planning to convert the metrobus line into an underground train system,” he said.
Istanbul used to be like some other cities that suffered from extreme natural phenomena, but that is no longer the case, the mayor said. “As of today, the temperatures will improve by 5 or 6 degrees in Istanbul, and we expect no more snow, but our teams are ready in risk areas.”