İstanbul’s catering firms say they are having “serious” problems with delivering food on time to customers between İstanbul’s European and Asian sides due to heavy traffic on the Fatih Sultan Mehmet (FSM) Bridge since last week.
Three lanes on the FSM Bridge, one of two bridges linking the Asian and European continents in İstanbul, have been closed to traffic since June 18, the start of a three-month period of renovations on the 35-year-old bridge. Officials said asphalt maintenance and renewal work will be carried out between June 18 and Sept. 17. Although necessary, the work has sparked criticism against the city’s administration. Some parties have accused the work of being “untimely.” Vehicles were at a standstill for hours and hundreds of drivers have been stuck in congestion on the FSM Bridge, while long queues have built up in various parts of İstanbul, particularly during rush hour. Officials have urged residents to use public transport instead of private vehicles unless absolutely necessary while work is under way on the bridge. Approximately 90,000 cars cross the FSM Bridge every day during the summer months.
Due to safety measures, lorries and semi-trailer trucks have been prevented from crossing the FSM Bridge, among which are catering firm trucks. Evaluating the traffic gridlock, İstanbul Food Industrialists Association (İYSAD) President Sadık Çelik said on Tuesday ready-to-serve food companies have suffered losses due to the past week’s troubles on the FSM Bridge. “We already have problems in delivering food to our customers on time, and this traffic jam has made things even worse. Our food deteriorates after long hours in the summer heat,” he stated. Çelik said the trucks are normally expected to deliver food to several workplaces on both sides of İstanbul by 12 noon. “Heavy traffic, however, delays this delivery by two to three hours. This leads to a serious waste of time and money,” he complained.
Çelik asked the authorities to allow specialized catering trucks to cross the FSM Bridge as a solution to the problem. There are more than 2,000 catering firms delivering food for different companies, public offices and schools on both sides of İstanbul.