Turkish PM attends test drive of overdue Ankara metro line

Turkish PM attends test drive of overdue Ankara metro line

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has attended a test drive Dec. 11 along Ankara's Batikent-Sincan metro segment, heralding that the seemingly unending construction was almost over and the much-awaited line will be inaugurated on New Year's Eve Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Despite the works on the line linking two populous suburbs in the capital's west and southwest having started in 2001 as a Y2K project, Erdogan still praised that the 11 metro stations were finished a year early than the predicted end date, which he said was at the end 2014.

The route was planned as an extension of the Kizilay-Batikent line designed by Mayor Melih Gokcek's predecessor, Murat Karayalcin, and built in four years, from 1993 to 1997.

The 15-km project was taken over by the Transport Ministry two years ago, after Gokcek's Metropolitan Municipality had been making snail-paced progress. Under fire for failing to open any new metro routes since the completion of the existing lines designed in the early 90s, Gokcek brushed off criticisms arguing that the Municipality acted deliberately slowly to hand over the project to the ministry in a "nimble move."

Erdogan also said that the Kizilay-Cayyolu line, under construction since 2002 and linking the center of the capital with one of the most urbanized satellite suburbs, would finish before the end of 2014. That particular line - expected to be completed in a record two years - had become an object of humiliating ridicule among Ankara residents after being repeatedly postponed despite many of the stations being duly built, with many comparing it with an inglorious version of Gaudi's famous Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona.

The prime minister also announced the opening next year of the Tandogan-Kecioren line which also took the lifetime of a generation to see the light. He said that more than half of the infrastructure of the 11.5-km section started in 2003 has been built and it was aimed to be finished before 2014.

113 projects inaugurated on symbolic date

Erdogan also inaugurated 113 "giant projects" of the Forestry and Waterworks Ministry, taking the opportunity to mark the special date of 11-12-13, the last such "sequential date" for another 90 years.

"Wherever you go in Turkey today, you will certainly see an artifact, a project, a piece or an investment of our government," Erdogan said at a ceremony held at the Ankara Arena Sports Hall Dec. 11.

"We do not pursue a shallow-nationalist or shallow-republican style of politics. Instead, we are completing projects. We have seen centuries-old dreams come true one by one," he added.

The 113 projects include 36 dams, six portable water refinement facilities, 26 irrigation systems and 22 flood prevention facilities. The combined cost of the projects was 3.25 billion Turkish Liras ($1.1 billion).

CHP seeks inquiry into inauguration ceremonies

Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) lawmakers have demanded a parliamentary inquiry into inauguration ceremonies conducted by Erdogan, claiming that they have turned into rallies for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the run-up to the local elections in March 2014.

"The government is using inauguration ceremonies as an instrument for its election campaign. A parliamentary inquiry should be launched in order to prevent this situation," read the CHP's proposal, submitted to Parliament on Dec. 11.

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