02 December Monday

Mayor İmamoğlu Speaks at Earthquake Workshop: “Canal Istanbul Is A Project of Murder”

Speaking at the Istanbul Earthquake Workshop, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu slammed the “Canal Istanbul” project. Stating that sea transport was not the main focus of the project, the Mayor drew attention to the threats the project posed on the ecological balance of the area.

In his criticism of the proposed Canal Istanbul project, İmamoğlu said: “Lakes, basins, arable land, living spaces, groundwater and the entire transport system of the city will be critically impacted by this project. Even when one sets aside the risk of annihilation faced by agricultural land, another major problem emerges with a population of 8 million being trapped in the island that will appear as a result of the canal. This project is not even one of betrayal, it is one of murder. It is a redundant project, and when finished, it will be the end of Istanbul.”

Meanwhile, the Istanbul Earthquake Workshop started today at the Istanbul Congress Center (ICC), bringing together hundreds of academics, NGOs and government officials from Turkey and abroad to discuss earthquake risk and its mitigation.

The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Tayfun Kahraman, Head of the Department of Earthquake Risk Management and Urban Improvement at the IMM. Speaking after Kahraman on possible earthquakes, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu stressed the fact that Istanbul is situated in close proximity to one of the world’s most dangerous fault lines.

“In the past, things in Istanbul didn't work at all, or didn't work as they should. There are of course various reasons why things have slowed down or come to a halt. But the most important reason is the know-it-all approach that has paralysed us. It is the mentality that blocks the voice and the will of the nation. Therefore, since the day I came into office, we have established a citizen-centred administration and introduced regular and structured interaction practices with the public. We started organizing workshops on Istanbul’s needs. We’re bringing together relevant people, experts, stakeholders and beneficiaries,” İmamoğlu told the participants of the workshop.

He further stated that the city “should not be run by trial and error”, and therefore his administration was “guided by democratic participation, intelligence and science.”

Mayor İmamoğlu, who noted the importance of the event by describing it as "the most important of the workshops we have done so far," explained that the primary duty of a municipal administration and a mayor must be to ensure the safety of the life and property of every citizen living in a given city. “On the other hand,” İmamoğlu continued, “there are certain areas that are -no matter how hard you work- often imperceptible for the general public. Indeed, the labor, time and resources you dedicate to those areas do not translate into votes. Earthquake preparedness and disaster resilience is one of those areas.”

“In the face of an earthquake or disaster, however, one understands how important those previous preparations have been. Perhaps this is why politicians, especially populist ones, do not pay much attention to these fields. They ignore issues such as global warming and climate change in the same way. This is not the kind of politican that I am,” he added. 

Drawing attention to the severity of the consequences Istanbul would suffer in the event of an earthquake, İmamoğlu underlined that their goal is to produce a comprehensive roadmap by taking scientific proposals into consideration. “We can't bury our heads in the sand. Earthquakes are the most important risk factor for this city. It is not such a small risk as not to be taken into account, not only Istanbul but all Turkey. We are talking about the possibility of a great chaos and a national disaster in which life will stop and the economy will suffer great damage. We are talking about a major risk. A total of 1.2 million structures will be damaged, and 48 thousand buildings will be severely damaged. Tens of thousands of citizens will die in the event of a strong quake,” İmamoğlu warned.

Speaking about the Canal Istanbul project, Mayor İmamoğlu pointed out that factories, schools and employment opportunities could be put in place with the resources to be spent on the project. “In summary, this project is not even one of betrayal, it is one of murder. It is an unnecessary project, and when finished, it will be the end of Istanbul. Clearly, we will not allow for the destruction of the natural environment, habitats and watersheds in this ancient city just so that certain people can make money out of it. With vigilance and courage, we will prevent mistakes,” the Mayor added.

The Istanbul Earthquake Workshop will continue at the ICC on December 3, 2019.

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