ANKARA - The TEM highway that connects Ankara and Istanbul is to take on a greener look with the planting of thousands of tree seedlings along the roadside. Various ceremonies were held along the route, which passes through the cities of Bolu, Düzce, Kocaeli and Sakarya, on Monday to begin the project.

The ceremony in Bolu’s Sarıcalar district was attended by Governor Halil İbrahim Akpınar; Metin Yılmaz, the Bolu deputy of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP; Mayor Alaaddin Yılmaz; Forestry Regional Director Sırrı Köstereli; and many residents. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended via a live transmission from Ankara. Governor Akpınar, who said that 40,000 seedlings would be planted in a 50-hectare area along the Bolu route, planted the first seed under Erdoğan’s direction.

More seedlings

The ceremony in Düzce was held in a forestation area near the Kaynaşlı highway entrance and was attended by Düzce Governor Bülent Kılınç, Mayor Mehmet Keleş, the chairmen of various public institutions and local residents. Governor Kılınç said that green areas and plants were very important for the future, and that young people should be more conscious about the importance of green space. After his speech, Kılınç planted two seeds. Some 400 seedlings will be planted in Düzce.

In Sakarya, Governor Hüseyin Atak; Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Deputies Ayhan Sefer Üstün and Recep Yıldırım; and Mayor Aziz Yıldırım planted the first of 17,000 seeds that will be nurtured in the area.

Erdoğan also appeared via live transmission in Kocaeli, where he gave a speech expressing his wish that the greening project would be beneficial. During the Kocaeli ceremony, 620 seeds were planted alongside the TEM highway. Kocaeli Governor Gökhan Sözer said 75 percent of the area around the highway would be forested through the project. "The municipality has already planted 80,000 trees in a 90-kilometer area," Sözer said. "The rest of the dull areas will be reforested with the new project."