Turkish theme park touted as testament to govt waste

STORY: In the Turkish capital of Ankara stands a defunct amusement park housing giant dinosaurs, robot models and decrepit fair rides.

And now it is being used as a symbol of government wastefulness by the city's opposition party.

CHP's mayor, Mansur Yavas, says the dystopian atmosphere here proves that President Tayyip Erdogan's administration is squandering money - in this case, he says, $801 million.

Money Yavas says could have been used for more socially beneficial projects.

"Fifteen thousand social housing units or 300 student dormitories could have been built to the meet the needs of the Ankara people."

Three years ago, Erdogan opened the massive theme park called "Ankapark" with great fanfare ahead of local elections.

But his ruling AK Party went on to lose control of the Ankara municipality at the subsequent vote.

This month, after a two-year legal battle, a court ruled to transfer control of the park to the new city council run by the CHP after the loss-making project fell into disrepair.

The dinosaur models that made the part famous are now falling apart and lie strewn around the abandoned, weed-covered area the size of around 120 soccer fields.

Yavas' comments came ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for next June.

Opinion polls show waning support for Erdogan and the AK Party after nearly two decades in power.

At the opening ceremony for the park, which took six years to build, Erdogan said it would earn the municipality some $10 million annually.

But the operator closed it down eight months later due to severe losses.

There has been little comment from AK Party officials on the court move and opposition accusations of profligacy.

But its deputy provincial head in Ankara has accused the mayor of sabotaging the project by letting it "go bankrupt" and then leaving it to rot.

Yavas said the municipality will decide what to do with the park in consultation with city residents. Adding that he was investigating development proposals.

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