Roundup: Factories, farms in Türkiye's earthquake zone suffer from labor shortage

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 20, 2023
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by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, March 20 (Xinhua) -- As Türkiye is slowly recovering from the massive earthquakes that left large parts of the country in ruins, the exodus of the workforce is a headache for local factories and farms of the earthquake zone.

According to the latest research by the Istanbul Chamber of Industry, the catastrophe prompted millions of people in the 11 quake-stricken provinces to relocate to safer cities.

The quake zone, with a strong textile industry and agricultural sector, accounts for 16 percent of the country's employment and 11 percent of total industrial output.

Despite Ankara's vow to quickly reconstruct hundreds of thousands of damaged or collapsed buildings, some people believe they might not come back.

"We don't have plans to return to our city in the short term. My workplace has been leveled to the ground, so is my house," Ahmet Tekin, a factory worker from Kahramanmaras, the southeastern epicenter of two earthquakes on Feb. 6.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes claimed the lives of over 50,000 people, injuring tens of thousands and leaving millions homeless. More than 4 million survivors are estimated to have migrated to other regions while 1.5 million others are currently sheltered in tents and container homes in the disaster zone.

Tekin told Xinhua in the capital city of Ankara that he is seeking a job in this city where his family relocated a week after the disaster.

The Turkish government has declared a ban on layoffs and extended a wage support scheme for businesses affected by the deadly quakes.

"We will see how things will develop but are still early. Perhaps we will decide to go back, but it is also possible that we may never return," Tekin added.

Alongside the manufacturing plants, farms have also been hit hard in the region where a state of emergency has been declared. Approximately 15 percent of the total agricultural land in Türkiye is located in the earthquake zone.

Hikmet Cincin, head of the Antakya Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that businesses in his city, which was heavily hit by the tremors, were operating far below capacity because they lacked skilled workers.

"Business here operate at a capacity of 30 percent because those who managed to survive the earthquakes moved to other cities or villages," he told Xinhua.

An official report released last week estimated that the disaster may cost over 105 billion U.S. dollars for the country's already struggling economy.

The report, revealed by Türkiye's Treasury and Finance Ministry and prepared by the presidency, predicted that the financial burden caused by the tragic tremors could reach 9 percent of the national income in 2023.

According to experts, the economic effects of the earthquakes will continue to impact the region for years to come.

"We need super incentives to get the industry running back again," Cincin insisted, calling on authorities to act urgently to stimulate industrial and agricultural production. Enditem

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