Tenders for rebuilding homes in 11 Turkish provinces that were hit by last month’s devastating earthquakes are likely to be awarded to companies famous for consistently winning large public tenders in Turkey, the Birgün daily reported on Wednesday.
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck near the city of Gaziantep on Feb. 6 while people were sleeping, killing more than 50,000 people in the 11 southeastern provinces hardest hit by the disaster, according to the latest official figures. The quake was followed by many aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that shook the region later the same day.
According to Birgün, the Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) held 19 tenders for permanent housing in disaster areas March 17-24 and is about to award one of the largest to REC Construction, a subsidiary of Rönesans Holding.
The holding previously undertook the construction of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidential complex in Ankara and the Okluk State Guesthouse in western Turkey, commonly known as Erdoğan’s “summer palace.”
Erdoğan’s presidential complex in Ankara was at the center of criticism when it was constructed due to its large budget, expensive interiors, more than a thousand rooms and luxurious design as well as the felling of trees in its neighborhood. Over TL 1.7 billion ($244 million at the time) had been spent on the palace, twice the original estimate, when Erdoğan moved into the palace in November 2014.
The construction of the Okluk State Guesthouse in the popular holiday resort of Marmaris was completed in 2019. The guesthouse campus was built near Okluk Cove at a cost of TL 640 million between 2018 and 2021 to replace the summer residence that had been constructed during the term in office of the late President Turgut Özal in the 1980s.
Birgün said REC Construction submitted the lowest bid of TL 2.2 billion ($116 million) in the tender for the construction of 1,115 housing units in the İslahiye district of Gaziantep.
TOKİ is also likely to sign a contract valued at TL 1.6 billion ($87 million) for 500 houses to be built in Hatay, one of the areas hardest hit by the powerful earthquakes, with Siyahkalem Inc., which submitted the best bid for the major project.
Siyahkalem was previously given a tender for the construction of a presidential palace in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) with a cost of nearly TL 2.5 billion ($130 million).
Turkey began work to rebuild homes less than a month after the major earthquakes, while architects and engineers warned that officials should carefully reconsider urban planning and building safety before a hasty rebuild.
At least 1.5 million people have been left homeless and 500,000 new homes need to be built after the devastating earthquakes, according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) experts.
More than 160,000 buildings, including 520,000 apartments, were destroyed or severely damaged in the major earthquakes.
President Erdoğan, keen to show his government will do everything for those impacted as he faces his biggest political test in elections planned for May, had promised that the houses would be rebuilt within a year.