One year has passed since the devastating earthquakes centred in Kahramanmaraş that hit 11 provinces. Kahramanmaraş, whose infrastructure was damaged in the earthquake, has been trying to heal its wounds and get back on its feet. The European Union (EU) supports the province in its reconstructions efforts, including by helping to establish a more sustainable and environmentally friendly transport infrastructure.
Emrah Hatunoğlu, Head of Foreign Relations Department of Kahramanmaraş Metropolitan Municipality, says: “While we were implementing the EU-funded Kahramanmaraş Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan and Smart Bike Lane Project (SUMP-Kahramanmaraş) under IPA II, the earthquakes changed the priorities in the transport infrastructure of our city and made the reinforcement of the transport infrastructure an urgent need. As a result of our meetings with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and the EU Delegation to Türkiye, we decided to double the budget of the SUMP Kahramanmaraş Project and transform it into the Kahramanmaraş Post-Earthquake Transport Improvement Project.”
Within the scope of the €7.8 million project, 15 electric buses will be purchased, and seven charging stations will be installed in the city. The project, carried out with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, will be 85 % funded by the EU.
Buses will be used in new settlements
Melike Özdemir, Deputy Secretary General of Kahramanmaraş Metropolitan Municipality in charge of transport, says: “95 % of the transport in Kahramanmaraş is provided by 351 private public buses. There are only 64 buses belonging to the Metropolitan Municipality. We plan to use 15 electric buses, which we will buy with EU support, between the new permanent housing areas and the city centre. We will both meet the public transport needs of the people who will settle in these areas and make an environmentally friendly investment.”
DELEGATION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION TO TÜRKIYE
Melike Özdemir is checking the implemented projects with her colleagues
The Head of the EU Delegation to Türkiye, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, says: “We have been assisting Türkiye since day one. 21 EU Member States, together with four other states participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, offered 32 search and rescue teams, seven medical teams and five field hospitals. The medical assistance and food aid have been provided. A total of €7 billion was pledged by the international community at the International Donors’ Conference under the motto “Together for the People in Türkiye and Syria” in March 2023. We also attach great importance to contributing to the post-earthquake infrastructure improvement projects. The electric bus project is proof of this.”
Greening public transport
Assoc. Prof Dr Fatih Keçecioğlu, Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam University Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, is positive about the project. Noting that there is a public transport problem, especially in container areas, Fatih Keçecioğlu reflects: “Increasing the number of buses will contribute to improving the transport infrastructure. The fact that the new buses are electric is also essential as a start. I hope that the fleet will grow with more electric vehicles, which will contribute to reducing carbon emissions in the city.”
According to Elif Naz Kurşuncu, the energy market expert, “what needs to be done after the earthquake is the planning of a healthy city and transport lines. The inclusion of electric buses in the public transport system both ensures that transport is not disrupted in case of fuel supply problems and reduces carbon emissions.”
DELEGATION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION TO TÜRKIYE
Transport and fuel supplies were disrupted due to roads damaged in the earthquakes.
The people of Kahramanmaraş are also satisfied with the project. Tuğba Bozdağ says: “The earthquakes disrupted the transport system, damaged roads and caused fuel supply problems. It is very important to improve the transport infrastructure of our city after the earthquake. Electric buses are more comfortable, quiet and environmentally friendly than diesel buses.”
What is IPA?
The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) is the means by which the EU has been supporting reforms in the enlargement region with financial and technical assistance since 2007. IPA funds build up the capacities of the beneficiaries throughout the accession process, resulting in progressive, positive developments in the enlargement region to which Türkiye belongs.