We have learned, TOKI says

We have learned, TOKI says

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s oft-criticized Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) has altered its building practices after learning a hard lesson from deadly flooding earlier this year in the Black Sea province of Samsun, an administration official has said.

“There is no compensation that could relieve the pain of death as we know it, but TOKİ is attentive about not building in stream beds in accordance with the development plan law. We made mistakes in the past; we are making self-criticism about this,” Ali Seydi Karaoğlu, the head of TOKİ’s Istanbul Real Estate Office, said at a panel organized by the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) on Oct. 16.

Heavy rain and flooding killed nine people and injured 21 more in Samsun on July 4. Many of those killed perished in houses that were built by TOKİ in a stream bed.

But Gürkan Akgün, a city planner from TMMOB, said TOKİ was fully responsible for the deaths because they chose to build in the flooding area despite a 2008 report from the chamber that warned of the risks of construction in the zone.

The TOKİ buildings were located between two branches of the Mert River that overflowed their banks, causing deaths and injuries when flood water quickly swamped poorly conceived basement floors in the residences. TOKİ had blamed weather conditions, “which poured more rain than calculated,” for the damage at the time.

The TMMOB revealed a report after the deadly flood saying responsibility for the disaster lay not with nature but with TOKİ, as well as the local municipality. The report said the area where the flooding occurred was a filled zone that was created by changing the direction of a river.

“The fact that the river’s direction was changed and that the previous location was opened to a housing zone were the major planning mistakes in the disaster,” it said.