By Alaatin Dogru
CONAKRY, Guinea (AA) – A fleet of 50 buses donated by Turkey to the West African nation of Guinea are helping to tackle the capital’s traffic woes, said officials in the capital Conakry.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spearheaded the donation in 2106 — during a visit, he learned that it was President Alpha Conde’s birthday, and decided to donate the buses as a gift — and the buses were sent last year.
Too many minibuses, motorcycles, and taxis on the streets of Conakry — with a population of over 1.6 million — are major causes of traffic inconvenience and frequent accidents.
Buses donated by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality through Turkey’s state aid agency, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), helped to speed the traffic flow and ease transportation. Day-to-day bus operations are handled by Turkey’s Albayrak Group.
Aboubacar Sylla, Guinea’s transport minister, told Anadolu Agency the country has few well-made vehicles, but that transportation in Conakry started to improve after Turkey's donation.
"A Chinese company had taken over public transportation in the city, but it failed to fix the problems," he said.
Sylla added that there are negotiations with Turkey over building a Metrobus line — buses with dedicated lanes — in the capital.
"Turkey’s helping hands in sectors like transportation will also help us achieve economic progress," he said.
"This project is only a start, our two countries will cooperate in numerous ways."
Nur Sagman, Turkey's ambassador to Conakry, said she is following the project and that seeing the buses serving people fills her with pride.
Senol Tatan, a member of the Albayrak group, said that they are working with 200 Guinean personnel who are in charge of the project.
"This project is an important milestone in the new era of transforming and developing public transportation in Conakry," Tatan said.
The bus drivers and passengers from all walks of like thanked Turkey for its extraordinary gesture and expressed their joy at having a better city with more modern transportation.