The ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Istanbul mayoral candidate for the March 31 elections, Binali Yıldırım, vowed yesterday that he will help Istanbul claim its place among the prominent cities in the world via culture and green areas. Stressing that his projects will not only focus on city infrastructure, but also culture, society and environment, Yıldırım indicated that he will showcase Istanbul with these aspects and increase its brand value. Touching upon the 1 million students living in Istanbul and Istanbul's economy, Yıldırım said that 67 percent of the economy of the city and fields of study are based on the service sector.
He noted that employment opportunities in the service sector would be increased by boosting investments in gastronomy and healthcare facilities, etc. Yıldırım added that they would turn the city into a science and technology center.
In relation to environmental policies, Yıldırım pointed out that their focus would be to increase green places and public gardens in districts and neighborhoods. Pointing out that only 50 square kilometers is filled with forests in the 5,462 square kilometers of Istanbul's coastal strip, which corresponds to 20 percent of the city, Yıldrım stressed he will bring blue and green together by creating green areas, walking trails and bicycle paths on the strip from end to end.
Yıldırım promises to resolve transportation problems
Yıldırım also pledged to alleviate traffic jams and develop public transportation to solve the problem, which he regards as the most vital problem in the city.
"The most important problem is the inadequacy of the public transportation system. In Istanbul, a person will be able to access a subway station with a maximum walk of 750 meters from their home," he said on Tuesday.
Pointing out that the current subway line and the city's iconic 50-kilometer bus rapid transit (BRT) route, called the Metrobüs, only covers 18 percent of Istanbul, Yıldırım said that their aim is to increase this figure to 48 percent.
Yıldırım stressed that they also plan to connect the newly opened Istanbul Airport, the biggest airport in the world, and the city center with a subway line. He said that having served as minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication for more than 11 years, this will be a piece of cake for him.
Many Istanbul residents use subways for transportation, with over 715 million passengers using the rail system for commuting. Istanbul, which had 8.5 kilometers of subway line in 2000, currently has a 170-kilometer subway line, with the construction for a 156-kilometer line continuing. However, the metro line still does not provide access to some districts in Istanbul and the waiting periods between stations on certain lines is a problem.
Speaking of another pressing problem, Yıldırım promised to resolve traffic jams, adding that when he was minister, they implemented similar country-wide projects, and they'll do them in Istanbul on a small scale.Previously, Yıldırım said that there are 7
70,000 parking lots in Istanbul, while 1,750,000 are needed; consequently, 40 percent of roads are used for parking, worsening the traffic problem. He also pledged to increase parking lots to alleviate traffic jams.
With more people, over 15 million, and more motor vehicles, more than 4.1 million, than any other city in Turkey, Istanbul has one of the worst traffic problems in the world.
However, thanks to preventative measures and recent projects by the municipality, the city has seen a 17 percent drop in traffic jams.
For instance, the Eurasia Tunnel and the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, opened in 2016, has brought down travel times on two major routes, the D-100 and TEM highways, straddling the city's European and Asian sides divided by the Bosporus. The Eurasia Tunnel links
Kazlıçeşme on the European side with Göztepe on the Asian side and is the city's only underwater tunnel for cars. The two-story tunnel reduces travel time at busy times from 100 minutes to just 15 minutes. Yavuz Sultan Selim also became the third bridge over the Bosporus, relieving Istanbul's traffic from the impact of trucks and other heavy vehicles.
People's Alliance extended to 20 more provinces
The AK Party vice chairman responsible for local administrations Mehmet Özhaseki announced yesterday that the party organizations of the People's Alliance, formed by the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), are discussing the possibility of expanding the alliance in 20 more provinces. Özhaseki added that the alliance scope might increase in 50 provinces.
Thus, the two parties reportedly decided to extend the alliance as the number of indecisive voters is more than 20 percent, a figure higher than expected. Ağrı, Bartın, Bilecik, Bitlis, Kırklareli, Siirt, Zonguldak, Bolu, Yalova and Iğdır are among the provinces in the alliance.
Moreover, media outlets reported yesterday that the AK Party and the MHP would adopt a new formula in the upcoming local elections.
The parties will separately enter elections in districts where first and second place is occupied by the two. This cooperation isn't limited to mayoral candidates, but will also be extended to elections for municipal councils by submitting joint lists. The utmost attention will be paid to maintain a balanced list for municipal councils.