The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality mayoral candidate Binali Yıldırım has promised to significantly develop the city's internet infrastructure and provide free Wi-Fi at all public places if elected in Sunday's local elections.
"The total length of the fiber network in Istanbul is 47,500 kilometers. We will increase this to 100,000 kilometers. We will take the lead in developing the fiber infrastructure," Yıldırım said in a televised interview Thursday, adding that free Wi-Fi services will be made available in all public places and on the main routes of Turkey's cultural and commercial capital in the next two years.
Yıldırım pointed out his success as a transport minister and stressed that significant steps would be taken to improve the quality of communication as well. He underlined that the needs in the field of communication have substantially increased in Istanbul.
Yıldırım is the Istanbul mayoral candidate of the People's Alliance, formed by the AK Party and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). His main rival will be Ekrem İmamoğlu, the candidate of Nation Alliance formed by the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the far-right Good Party (İP).
Talking about the traffic and parking spaces, two other significant problems in Istanbul, Yıldırım detailed some of his projects that would address these problems. "In the next five years we will build parking lots with a capacity of at least 244,000 cars," Yıldırım said and underlined that there are 4 million vehicles in Istanbul and they expect that new rail systems projects will help ease the traffic problem.
Answering a question on smart traffic, Yıldırım said, "We will build 285 kilometers of subways in total, currently it is 233 kilometers. This is something ambitious. Without doing this we cannot ease the traffic problem in Istanbul." Yıldırım also underscored that in a metropolitan city like Istanbul, they can only promise traffic that flows.
Istanbul is considered essential in the local elections. Since 2003, when the AK Party attended its first local elections following its establishment, the metropolitan municipality of Istanbul has been governed by the AK Party.
According to official records, Istanbul has a population of nearly 15 million, which represents nearly 20 percent of Turkey's population. Connecting Asia and Europe, Istanbul is considered the most populous city in Europe. Also, Istanbul's economy is responsible for 27 percent of Turkey's gross domestic product (GDP), with 20 percent of the country's industrial labor force residing in the city.
Commenting on Sunday's vote, Yıldırım said: "I believe that I will do the best, which Istanbul deserves. The people of Istanbul are the ones who will give me authority. When this authority is given I will move full speed ahead.
In relation to his projects for Istanbul, CHP candidate Imamoğlu said Thursday that if he is elected he will focus on transforming Taksim square with a project that represents the identity of the area.