Princes’ Islands locals press charges against Mayor İmamoğlu for minibus introduction

Residents of Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands have pressed charges against Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu for "misuse of office" and "violation of the coastal law" by introducing the urban minibusses as a public transportation option to the islands where personal motor vehicles are banned.

Gazete Duvar / Osman Çaklı 

Princes’ Islands residents on July 1 filed a criminal complaint against Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu at Istanbul Courthouse for introducing the public transportation system locals deemed unsuitable for the islands.

The municipality’s “Adabüs” project, implemented on June 15, faced protests from residents, who referred to the project as "Azmanbüs" (monster bus) and claimed the motor vehicles posed a threat to the unique texture of the islands.

In response to the ongoing protests, İmamoğlu stated that the municipality was working on licensing vehicles with a different design. “Please do not try to hinder us; we hear your voices,” the mayor stated. 

The criminal complaint filed by the residents also included the  General Manager of Istanbul Electricity, Tramway, and Tunnel General Management (İETT) İrfan Demet. The grounds for the complaint were "misuse of office" and "violation of the coastal law." 

The complaint referenced the date when the islands were designated as a protected area, stating, “The natural, cultural, and historical values have come to the brink of destruction due to public officials, including the suspects, acting contrary to the requirements of their duties and showing neglect or delay in performing their duties.”

The residents recalled that there was no public transportation on the islands until 2020 and noted that the distance between residential areas and public institutions was no more than a thousand meters. 

The complainants also held that the municipality referred to the tourists visiting the islands, and 60,000 people were not permanent residents as the municipality claimed. “The suspects’ actions are not a service but a profit-oriented tourist transport operation at high prices,” the complaint continued. 

The residents highlighted the lack of equality in transportation on the islands, “Despite claiming to consider our elderly citizens, the senior citizen, teacher, and student discounts applied to İETT’s public transportation fares are not valid on the islands. The transfer discount applied within the city when changing vehicles is also not valid on the islands. A written request received a response stating that transportation on the islands was recreational and demand-based, thus not suitable for the equality request.”

(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)