After-hours parking lots swell in Istanbul

Published 12.09.2019 00:22

Illegal parking lot operators known as "değnekçi" flourish in Istanbul nowadays and despite police raids, they continue threatening motorists.

Those self-appointed parking attendants were commonplace in the past but they disappeared after the municipality launched İSPARK, a company to run parking lots across the city for a low fee. Today, Istanbulites complain that değnekçis occupy İSPARK-run lots after municipality staff leave in the evening and charge them high parking fees. Those who do not pay are threatened by illegal attendants with damage to their cars. Istanbul police recently launched city-wide operations against illegal attendants and issued fines to 91 people caught operating lots after-hours. The highest number of illegal attendants were in the Bakırköy district on the city's European side and police detained 56 suspects during inspections of 64 parking lots. The suspects were released after being issued fines but experts say the fines up to TL 108 do not deter them. Indeed, a değnekçi was detained twice in two days in Kadıköy district.

Lawyer Pekay Salmanoğlu says a different crime description is needed in the Penal Code for illegal parking operators, rather than issuing fines to them under the Misdemeanors Act. "Laws on road traffic calls for prison terms of up to two years for those illegally operating parking lots but they are also punishable under the Misdemeanors Act." Murat Emergen, another lawyer, said illegal parking attendants were solely fined "apparently because of good will of law enforcement, possibly as a warning." "You can't jail a suspect if you issued him or her an administrative fine under these laws," he notes.

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