Turkish presidency rejects opposition Istanbul municipality's transport projects

Opposition Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has announced on his social media account that the Turkish Presidency has rejected to approve the municipality's transportation projects, including 300 metro buses and a new metro line, for which funding is already ready.

The sign placed by the municipality reads 'There could be a metro here, but the President did not approve it.'

Duvar English

Opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, announced on social media that the Turkish Presidency has denied the city of funding for transportation infrastructure improvement in 2022. The city desperately needs increased public transportation to ease congestion.

According to a post by Mayor İmamoğlu on social media, the city’s request for 300 metro buses and funding for a new metro line for the city’s outskirts were excluded from the country’s 2022 investment plan. That left İmamoğlu and his constituents with one question - why?

“The projects are ready, investors are ready, financing is ready. But a signature is missing. Why?,” İmamoğlu wrote on social media.

In recent weeks, Mayor İmamoğlu and his municipal staff have been the target of government ire. Many working for the municipality have been investigated for terrorism, and the mayor himself has been linked by pro-government media to the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the government considers a terrorist organization.

The denial of the new transport projects appears to be yet another slight against Turkey’s largest city, which became an opposition stronghold after municipal elections (and reruns) in 2019.

The mayor assured his followers that the projects would be carried out regardless of presidential approval, but his post raised a larger question. Why is critical transportation being denied by the presidency to millions of people?

The transportation and communication portion of Turkey’s “2022 Investment Plan,” announced on January 15 by the government’s Official Gazette, provided funding for buses in four provinces - Ankara, İzmir, Mersin, and Konya. The budget will also fund several metro and rail lines in Istanbul and throughout the country, overseen by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (not the municipality). Projects carried out by the ministry have long been undertaken via tender by companies, such as Cengiz Holding, closely aligned with the Presidency.