The FINANCIAL — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is extending a €5 million loan and a €5 million grant to the city of Gaziantep in south-eastern Turkey for the acquisition of 50 new buses.
With a population close to two million people, Gaziantep, one of Turkey’s oldest cities and among its most populous, is deeply affected by the influx of refugees from neighbouring Syria. Today, refugees account for about 35 per cent of the inner city. The sharp increase in population puts a strain on key municipal services, and urban transport in particular, according to EBRD.
The EBRD funds will help the municipality meet the growing demand for services at a time of enormous challenges and increasingly strained budgets. The financing will enable the city to buy 50 environmentally-friendly, compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.
The project is in line with Gaziantep’s Climate Change Action Plan which was developed with the support of the EBRD. Developing sustainable transport is part of this ambitious set of policies to tackle climate change by cutting emissions by 20 per cent by 2023.
Susan Goeransson, EBRD Director for Municipal and Environmental Infrastructure, said: “The EBRD’s response to the challenges posed by the surge in population in Gaziantep is to help build the city’s and the region’s economic resilience to cope with the crisis now and in months and years ahead. The new environmentally-friendly buses will help improve access to public transport and the quality of services, taking people to their destinations more safely and improving their lives.”
This is the second EBRD loan to the municipality of Gaziantep. In 2011 the Bank provided €10 million to finance 50 buses, essential maintenance equipment and a CNG filling station.
The Bank, which has had an office in Gaziantep since 2014, is also working with Turkish banks to provide loans to small businesses active in refugee-hosting communities, boosting local economies and creating employment opportunities. The EBRD also helps small businesses to access the know-how they need to develop and grow. The Bank runs advisory projects with local consultants as well as training courses for businesses.
In addition, the EBRD is planning to support local business support organisations, helping them to offer more support to entrepreneurs by providing information on regulations, access to finance and strengthening local professional networks and knowledge of local supply chains.
The Bank started investing in Turkey in 2009 and currently operates from offices in Istanbul, Ankara and Gaziantep. To date it has invested over €8 billion in the country through more than 200 projects in infrastructure, energy, agribusiness, industry and finance. It has also mobilised nearly €20 billion for these ventures from other sources of financing. Some 98 per cent of the Bank’s investments in Turkey are in the private sector.