An abandoned Ankara amusement park, opened three years ago by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been transferred by a court to the city council after a two-year legal battle.
“Ankapark Wonderland Eurasia”, opened just before the 2019 local elections in Turkey, is now under the control of the municipality of Ankara led by the main opposition party to Erdogan’s AKP, the Republican People’s Party ( HPC). The city’s mayor, Mansur Yavas, sheds light on what he calls the abominable embezzlement of public funds by the AKP – the project cost $801 million, according to Yavas – in the run-up to legislative and presidential elections, which are to take place by June 2023, which are expected to take place intensify the war of words over the fiasco.
“Fifteen thousand public housing or 300 student dormitories could have been built to meet the needs of the people of Ankara,” Yavas told Reuters after the city council took control of the park.
The news agency also reported how the dinosaur models, for which Ankapark was famous, were now crumbling, strewn around an old weed-covered area the size of around 120 football pitches. .
The operator of Ankapark closed the attraction after eight months of operation in November 2019, citing losses.
The AKP’s deputy provincial leader in Ankara, Mehmet Yilmazer, tried to blame Yavas for the amusement park debacle, writing on Twitter: “Mansur Yavas did not provide any service to Ankara. He did bankrupt Ankapark, then left it to rot.”
Ankara Municipality is seeking development proposals for the site via a website.
In the year before Ankapark opened, there were omens of doom as its developers struggled to meet completion deadlines and safety requirements – Melih Gokcek, the former AKP mayor of Ankara , was photographed stuck on top of a roller coaster shortly after the park was completed.
On opening day, in his speech in front of a model dinosaur and a fountain adorned with statues of cats, Erdogan said the park would provide the municipality of Ankara with 50 million Turkish liras a year. “Ankapark…is not just a symbol of pride for Ankara, but for all of Turkey,” Erdogan told a crowd of thousands.
The park was supposed to house some 2,117 attractions, including 14 roller coasters. It was aiming for 5 million visitors in its first year of operation.
Populist Erdogan is known for his mega-infrastructure projects, including Istanbul’s three-year-old mega airport and mega hospitals across the country.
The Turkish leader’s “crazy” project – as in “crazy crazy” – the multibillion-dollar Istanbul Canal, which is to slice through Turkey’s cultural and commercial capital parallel to the Bosphorus Strait to connect the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, with an alternative route for shipping, is moving forward. But he’s under a lot of fire.
Last November, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu called on foreign investors not to support him, saying experts had concluded the canal was completely useless and would harm the environment. “At a time when the whole world is grappling with the devastating effects of the climate crisis, supporting a project like Canal Istanbul, which will disrupt the integrity of the ecosystem and cause irreversible damage to nature, stands in stark contrast to protecting nature and tackling the climate crisis,” Kilicdaroglu wrote in a letter sent to diplomatic missions.
Credit: Turkish Presidency.