Tender held to build in idyllic natural park in Turkey’s west amid protests

Tender held to build in idyllic natural park in Turkey’s west amid protests

Aysel Alp - BOLU
Tender held to build in idyllic natural park in Turkey’s west amid protests

A tender has been held to allow construction on a natural park in the northwestern province of Bolu, amid protests over environmental concerns.

The tender, which gives the winner Gölcük Natural Park’s operating license until 2040, was held in the Bolu Municipal Council Hall on Dec. 19.

Kurtuluş Tokcan, from the nearby province of Düzce, won the tender after offering 116,000 Turkish Liras a month as rent for the operating rights.

The Bolu Municipality was the previous leaseholder of the green space. The tender was held for the initial stage of a three-part construction project, which includes building a three-kilometer-long lift, a one-kilometer-long mountain coaster, 25 bungalows and a 19-roomed mountain mansion.

A total of 13 individuals and companies bid in the tender. Ten companies were subsequently eliminated, leaving the owners of two companies and the businessman Tokcan in the running.

Tokcan won the tender with his 116,000-lira bid. The other bids came to 100,000 and 115,000 liras.

“Our aim is not to make money. We want the project to have a healthy structure. We seek balance,” Bolu Mayor Alaaddin Yılmaz told daily Hürriyet on Dec. 19, criticizing main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Bolu deputy Tanju Özcan for objecting to the tender.

“A lawmaker comes and makes a show during the tender. He says ‘no’ to everything, but not a single person comes out and says, ‘This is what you’re doing wrong.’ They just object. We will evaluate the results of the tender. Depending on those results, we can either cancel the tender or announce the winner,” he said.

A group of non-governmental organizations are preparing to file a complaint against the tender, claiming that the proposed construction will ruin the natural beauty of the area.

Officials from the Gölcük Platform, an association formed of several NGOs, said the tender commission has until Jan. 5, 2018 to announce the result, though they expect the tender to be canceled.

They also said a number of environmentally-conscious citizens were filing petitions to cancel the tender without waiting for the results.

Tokcan is reportedly the brother of Muhammet Tokcan, who was part of the Chechen group that hijacked a ferry in 2006 and raided Swissotel in Istanbul in 2001.

Nine Chechen militants hijacked the Avrasya ferry as it was about to depart from the Black Sea province of Trabzon to Sochi in Russia in January 2006. 177 passengers and 55 crew-members were on board the ferry, which the militants diverted to Istanbul. The group aimed to publicize the ongoing situation of Chechens in Russia.

Although the militants threatened to blow up the ferry, the 72-hour crisis ended without any casualties. Four of the Chechens surrendered and security forces apprehended the remaining five near the Istanbul Strait.

Some of the militants involved in the ferry hijacking incident also took part in the Swissotel raid in 2001, when a group of Chechens held the hotel’s guests hostage for 12 hours. They also aimed to shine a light on the situation in Chechnya. The raid also ended without casualties.