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Why Erdogan’s aim for reconstruction may not be achieved, according to an analysis by Reuters.

Rebuilding Efforts for Homes Destroyed in Turkish Earthquake Face Delays

Challenges in Meeting Reconstruction Deadlines

Sheltering in a converted shipping container, Ismet Kaplan anxiously awaits news on whether he will be eligible for one of the hundreds of thousands of homes promised by President Tayyip Erdogan to replace those destroyed in the deadliest earthquake in modern Turkey’s history. However, eight months after the earthquake, rising construction costs and economic uncertainty have deterred companies from bidding for government reconstruction contracts, making it increasingly unlikely that the promised deadline of rebuilding half the disaster zone within a year will be met.

A Long Wait for Survivors

As work on a fraction of the planned new buildings in the devastated city of Adiyaman gets underway, Ismet Kaplan, along with his disabled wife and other survivors, fears a prolonged wait. They are currently exposed to the harsh summer and winter temperatures in temporary housing comprised of shipping containers. Kaplan, who lost his apartment block in the quake and tragically lost family members, believes it will take years before they can move into a proper home.

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Missed Targets and Budget Constraints

According to government officials, only 40,000 homes will be ready by the end of November, leaving a daunting task of completing nearly 280,000 more by February. Insufficient fresh funding for new tenders and budget constraints have been cited as major obstacles in meeting the reconstruction targets. Moreover, the number of companies bidding for reconstruction tenders has significantly decreased, following an economic policy U-turn after the June elections that caused the currency to plummet.

Government’s Response

In response to questions regarding the delays, Erdogan’s office maintains that construction is on schedule and in line with the announced targets. They claim that work has commenced on 200,000 homes and that completed homes will be delivered in stages between October and December. However, data from the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization shows that as of August 6, construction had only started on 123,000 homes out of the total planned.

Concerns and Predictions

Ufuk Bayir, the secretary general of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects in Adiyaman, expressed his doubts about all homes being delivered within a year. He predicts that only a few hundred homes will be completed by the end of the year. This sentiment is echoed by many survivors who anxiously await the fulfillment of Erdogan’s promises, as they continue to live in tents and container homes with winter fast approaching.

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Impact on Local Elections and Budget

The delay in reconstruction efforts could have repercussions in the upcoming local elections. Erdogan’s AK Party aims to regain control of municipal governments in major cities such as Istanbul and Ankara, which were lost to the opposition in 2019. Failing to deliver on promised reconstruction could influence voters’ decisions.

Rising Costs and Reluctant Bidders

Rising construction costs due to inflation, a weakened lira, and wage hikes have severely reduced predictability and deterred companies from bidding on reconstruction projects. Turkish construction companies, who have up to 70% of costs indexed to the dollar, are finding it increasingly difficult to bear the financial burden. Contractors are also struggling to retain workers, as rival companies offer higher wages to attract them.

Concerns for the Future

As the deadline for completing the reconstruction of homes destroyed by the earthquake approaches, many survivors like Ismet Kaplan and Umit Oktay remain skeptical about living in proper houses during the upcoming winter. The challenges and delays faced in the rebuilding efforts highlight the need for urgent action and additional measures to ensure the timely completion of the promised homes.

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