Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on Monday blasted the megacity’s Transportation Coordination Centre (UKOME) after it downvoted for a second time a call by the municipality for a 50 percent hike to transportation fares to offset increasing fuel prices.
The opposition-run İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) has been attempting since last month to introduce a 50 percent increase in public transportation fares in the city of some 15 million, a proposal that the city’s UKOME, where the government representatives hold majority, rejected once again on Monday, BirGün newspaper reported.
İmamoğlu reacted to the unanimous vote by the centre against the proposal, calling the move “a part of an effort to bankrupt” the Istanbul Electricity, Tramway and Tunnel (IETT), the company that runs public transportation in the megacity.
“At this point, the instigator of all problems occurring in public transportation is the UKOME’s members and institutions, which have sold their consciences to politics,’’ the Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayor said on Twitter.
İmamoğlu maintains that an doubling of transportation fares in the city is only natural, citing the 120 percent increase in fuel prices over the past few months. He has called for a 50 percent hike to minibus and dolmus (shared taxis) fares, and a 40 percent increase in bus services provided by workplaces.
Inflation in Turkey accelerated to 61.14 percent in March, up from 54.4 percent in February, according to the statistics agency, extending a two-decade high. Turkish consumers have been struggling with a decline in purchasing power due to rampant inflation and the weakening lira, which lost 44 percent of its value last year and nine percent this year.
The country has seen a sharp increase in oil prices in recent weeks, sparked by the geopolitical risks surrounding major oil producer Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.