In response to resignation question, Hatay mayor says gov’t should also take responsibility

In response to a question whether he will resign in the face of massive destruction in quake-hit Hatay, Metropolitan Mayor Lütfü Savaş has said that municipalities are just one dimension in the chain of accountability and that contractors, building inspection firms and the rulership also should take responsibility. “If someone needs to resign, everyone needs to then,” he said.

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The metropolitan mayor of the quake-hit Hatay province, Lütfü Savaş, on Feb. 23 joined a program on broadcaster Haber Türk. When asked by journalist Mehmet Akif Ersoy if he was thinking of resigning due to the widespread destruction in the province in the aftermath of Feb. 6-dated earthquakes, Savaş said that not only him but then all of the mayors of the 11 quake-hit provinces need to resign.

He said that of the 15 districts in Hatay, 11 are district mayors from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Savaş is from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

“Not all of the demolished buildings are affiliated with the metropolitan municipality because the districts (district municipalities) are giving the permit. For the last nine years, the authority of this (construction) does not belong to me but the districts. Eleven districts are of the rulership (i.e. mayors of the AKP). If someone needs to resign, everyone needs to then. The 10 metropolitan mayors (of quake-hit provinces) need to resign. The districts (i.e district mayors) need to resign. The rulership needs to resign due to the decisions it has taken. If someone is going to resign, let us resign all together. Let’s apply to the judiciary one month later,” Savaş said.

The mayor said that Antakya is one of the districts that has received the greatest destruction since it has the “least robust” ground. The earthquakes, one at a magnitude of 7.7 and the other 7.6., have led to destruction in 10 provinces.

Savaş said that the damage to his own house is so also great that it will be demolished. “It has received a great damage. It needs to be demolished. I am currently staying at a friend’s house,” he said.

He said that municipalities are not the only responsible actors in the chain of house construction sector as the Urbanization Ministry provides the certification of building inspection.

“Contractors and inspection firms are undertaking the construction together. The guarantee of this lies with the building inspection firm. Municipalities are not the only actors here. There are also contractor firms, building inspection firms, municipalities and the government,” he said.