This post is also available in: ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ (GREEK) TÜRKÇE (TURKISH)
The General Secretary of KTÖS [Turkish Cypriot Primary School Teachers’ Union] Burak Maviş was a guest on my programme yesterday and shared with us that: of the 112 primary schools in our country, 89 of the school buildings were built before 1974. Eight of them were built between ’74-’99 and the remaining 15 buildings were constructed after that.
When we examine these figures, I think it’s possible to see the extent of the spoils [of war] that were seized only under the education component. If we were to add middle and high schools to this number, it’s not difficult to see that a large portion of the school infrastructure is made up of looted properties.
On the other hand, in light of this information, one cannot but feel a strange sense of relief when knowing that these buildings “date back to the Greek Cypriot [period].” I’m not an expert on the subject and don’t know much about buildings. But an experience with a friend on demolishing a wall came to mind.
Once upon a time, an old friend of mine and I decided to open up a hamburger joint in İskele [Trikomo]. We had thought about joining two adjacent shops located on the ground floor of their home which was a Greek Cypriot-owned building. Picking up our sledgehammers we set out to demolish the wall in between. Damn us for trying!
Let alone demolishing the wall, with the help of other friends who joined us, it took us two whole days just to open a hole in the wall. It was that strong!
As I sat listening to Burak Maviş share these figures, unavoidably I remembered this story, making me believe that it’s safe to say that at least our primary school buildings are sturdy.
Again, as Burak informed us, I learned that the Gazi Primary School in Famagusta was built in 1924. We are talking about a building that is 99 years old. As I said, I’m no expert but if a building is constructed properly in accordance with safety standards, if its foundations are laid properly and if it is maintained and repaired over the years then it would be possible to assume that a building’s service life can exceed a hundred years.
Of course, the picture changes when we approach the issue not in theory but in real life. Because, as we have seen on social media after the earthquake, the system which is arrogantly boasted of day and night has not done what it needed to do for [the maintenance of] those buildings, and many of our schools are in a dilapidated state due to negligence.
In short, the system in the north of the island, based on plunder, has revealed it is incapable of looking after the property it looted, failing to add a single stone since. Not only has [the system] not done anything to improve these buildings, but it has also failed to build any new ones to replace them. Just think, only 23 new schools have been built since 1974!
And so, the neglected and unsafe state of our schools which teachers’ unions such as KTÖS have been constantly drawing attention to has painfully come to the spotlight after the February 6 earthquake in Kahramanmaraş.
And we have painfully seen that we still do not have the means to fully assess the state of these schools. I’m saying still because despite the dozens of earthquake meetings held every day by both the government and opposition, we still don’t know how the resistance and durability reports will be obtained.
Even if we knew, we do not have the funds to carry out this very difficult and cumbersome task. Let’s say we found the money, we don’t know at all if we have enough experts to carry out the task.
There are hundreds of schools in the country. There are hundreds of public buildings that thousands of people use every day. We can’t predict if these buildings are sturdy enough to withstand an earthquake. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not going to claim like some “click frenzy” media outlets that flash ridiculous headlines such as “earthquake at our doorstep” or “the earthquake is close”, that we are on the “brink of an earthquake”. It’s clear that Cyprus is not located in a first-degree earthquake zone.
I can see that news produced by a large section of the media, which failed to pass the test, has caused panic and trauma among the public. But there are countless benefits to being cautious.
Naturally, I am focused on the answer to the question ‘how ready are we for an earthquake’ because I know that it is unearned income, negligence and hypocrisy that kill, not earthquakes. In any case, the recent Kahramanmaraş earthquake has been another example of this painful reality…
Well then if you ask me whether or not the government, which is putting its hands in the public’s pockets in the name of an ‘earthquake tax’ but which in fact intends to use the money at the end of the month to pay salaries is capable of carrying out the requirements I mentioned above, my answer will be a big fat no.
I mean what, are we expected to trust a government whose philosophy had a person elected to the post of ‘President’ who said, “what master plan, what decree, keep going and have nothing to fear”?
Or should we trust the mentality that introduced for a day something similar to the construction amnesty in Turkey that cost the lives of thousands of people, granting permits to countless illegal buildings, only to be stopped by the Constitutional Court?
As if this was not enough, should we listen to those who tabled in parliament just days before the earthquake, with the help of three MPs who know nothing about the issue, a legislative amendment that sought to remove the [building] permit requirement when constructing public buildings?
I don’t know about you, but I have no hope from this system in which we live.
To expect benefit from a system that is crumbling piece by piece, which is gripped with nepotism and corruption, whose Prime Minister brags in parliament, “We are violating the constitution just this once, nothing will happen from one small violation” is no different from expecting pigs to fly.
Are you not fed up with wasting our lives by rehashing this system repeatedly and for nothing?
I have been fed up for a long time.
If only the opposition that considers serving as a crutch for the government in parliament as a “means for democratic struggle” would be fed up too.
If only the trade unions that think they are defending rights based on the Constitution of the TRNC system would also be fed up.
If only NGOs many of which are nothing but the backyard of political parties would also be fed up.
But most importantly, if only the people expecting to benefit from the politicians and politics of this system, who expect order, who expect solutions, would have enough!
That is when real change begins.
Real change will begin when this strange order is rejected altogether.
Anything else, any struggles waged inside this system are doomed to fail from the start.
Source: WE WILL NOT SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY UNLESS WE FREE OURSELVES FROM THIS SYSTEM ALTOGETHER!