Motorcycle couriers fight for life on Istanbul’s icy roads

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Turkey’s prominent metropolis, Istanbul, has been hit by a week-long heavy snowfall and subzero winds, adding to the trouble of motorcycle couriers who are struggling to deliver orders in such harsh weather conditions, daily Milliyet reported on Feb. 17.

“It is so hard to ride on snow and ice. We are dancing with death,” said Mustafa Özdemir, the head of the Society of Motorcycle Couriers.

According to Özdemir, there are around 50,000 couriers in the metropolis, earning around 4,000 Turkish Liras ($570) a month, including tips, by working 10 to 14 hours a day.

Highlighting that at least twice a day he encounters a skidding incident, Lütfi M., a motorcycle courier working in the Beşiktaş district, said, “No one knows how it feels to freeze better than us.”

Hasan Ceylanlı, who is a courier boy for more than 10 years, added that some of his colleagues encountered near-death experiences in this period.

“We are fed up with the insensitivity shown to us by people. At around 11 p.m., some people order desserts and then expect us to service it quickly,” Ceylanlı said.

“The last two nights, I rode my motorcycle feeling completely numb due to the cold,” he added.

Motorcycle couriers also complained about some business owners who try to bully them in order to get their work done.

According to the society head, some business owners do not care about the time, snow thickness, or icy roads and threaten courier persons working for them, saying, “Either service the order or lose your job.”

“Some of them [business owners] force our friends to work day and night with no heed paid towards their right to have a personal life,” Özdemir said.

Meanwhile, easing the worries of motorcycle couriers, meteorologists said, “The cold weather is leaving Istanbul as of Feb. 18.”

However, on Feb. 17, the last day of snowfall after a week of precipitation in the metropolis, the traffic density in Istanbul skyrocketed to 71 percent.

Due to the traffic jam, most residents preferred walking than driving in some of the city’s busy districts, such as Beşiktaş, Kağıthane and Sarıyer.

Some cars were seen stuck in snow in the Kavacık neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul, causing traffic on the main road to the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

Temperatures is expected to return to seasonal norms in Istanbul as of Feb. 18, while precipitation is likely to continue in most parts of the country.

The Turkish State Meteorological Service has declared yellow and orange warnings for 69 provinces out of all Turkey’s 81 provinces.

“Snow and rains will continue at the western provinces of the Marmara region, most of Aegean and Central Anatolian provinces, western coasts at the Mediterranean region, all the Black Sea and eastern Anatolia provinces,” said in a statement.

Officials also warned residents of the Central and Eastern Anatolian provinces of the likelihood of frost.

In meteorology, a “yellow warning” is given to alarm residents of a “potential danger” due to deteriorating weather conditions.

An “orange warning” signifies “danger,” which means that damages and losses may occur in a province where an orange signal is given.

Hurriyet Daily News

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