Opposition İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener has called on Turkish people to hold government officials to account for their past deeds, saying that otherwise “scenes of disasters” will not end.Death toll climbs to 109 from devastating İzmir quake
“Bring the political parties that you have voted for to account. If you do not bring them to account, these scenes of disasters that come with the understanding of profit-seeking will not end,” Akşener said on Nov. 3, while addressing her party's parliamentary group meeting.
Akşener's comments came after a powerful earthquake hit Turkey's Aegean province of İzmir on Oct. 30, destroying several buildings.
Akşener question 'quake taxes' after deadly tremor
Akşener asked the government what happened with the revenues from the earthquake taxes collected for the last 21 years, inquiring why officials failed to take the necessary measures for potential earthquakes.
Following the 1999 Istanbul earthquake, the government imposed an “earthquake tax” to improve plans for future disasters and build earthquake-resistant buildings. However, opposition parties have been indicating that this money has been allocated for various infrastructure projects and channeled toward other government budgets.What happened to the earthquake special taxes in Turkey?
Akşener said that despite reports of illegally undertaken constructions for several years now, ministries run under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have not done any anything to tackle this issue. She said that on the contrary the AKP officials “joined hands with pro-government contractors and completely disregarded citizens' lives.”
“You run the metropolises for the last quarter-century, the country for the 18 years, and then you complain [of problems] more than me. As I see this, I am ashamed on behalf of the Turkish politics. I feel ashamed as I see profit-seeking politicians who blame only the previous managements, as if they have no responsibility at all, and on top of that who do not cancel their provincial party congresses,” Akşener said, referring to the AKP's Samsun provincial congress on Nov. 1.
Akşenerslams gov’t for issuing controversial zoning amnesty
Akşener further criticized the government for issuing a controversial zoning amnesty ahead of the general elections of 2018. Millions of illegally constructed buildings throughout Turkey became eligible for legitimate deeds, with disastrous consequences during the quakes.Opposition leader Babacan says gov’t should re-allocate Kanal Istanbul funds to prepare city for earthquake
İzmir was one of the cities that topped the list for the number of illegal buildings that were “forgiven” by the government.
“I protest those who have turned urban transformation into profit-seeking projects, opportunism, who have have legalized the defective buildings under the name of zoning amnesty,” Akşener said.
Turkey sits on top of fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. Despite this, the country has a mix of cheap or illegal construction, which lead to serious damage and deaths when earthquakes hit.
It is known that private contracts undertake poor workmanship and use cheap, inadequate materials while building the houses. Also officials fail to enforce building codes regarding earthquake-resistant designs.
Following the 1999 Istanbul earthquake, which killed over 18,000 people, some contractors were criminally prosecutors, but only very few were found guilty.