The earthquake of 6 February 2023 was a black day for us as within seconds everything came to naught. As the earth beneath us shook, it pulverised as many as 11 cities in the eastern region of Türkiye, impacting also the textiles industry.
The temblor has damaged 15% of our textiles and garment industry in these 11 cities. The total number of apparel companies here is 1616, and 1290 textile mills, employing as many as 350,000 workers in their factories. The total export share from this region comes to 2.55% in the apparel sector and 32.1% in the textiles sector. The total production capacity of the apparel sector is 9%.
And this situation will affect annual growth by –1 to –1.2 points, and with a deficit of $8–9 billion, inflation is set to increase by 5–6%
Luckily, most of the players in the garment and textiles industry are located in industrial areas; so, there was no considerable damage there. In Kahramanmaraş, some textile factories were damaged; but they have now begun production, though in half capacity. In Adıyaman, where apparel manufacturing is big, the problems were not because the factories were damaged but because the workers had either died or lost their families, or they had left the area entirely.
However, they are all beginning to return since we, the government, the AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Authority), along with the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM), the Turkish Clothing Manufacturers Association (TCMA) and many other organisations are helping to build shelters like tents and container homes and also seeking funds. There are only so many tents and containers, and it takes time to build these, to get people to leave the rubbled cities, and move to other areas where they have families. Some have rented homes in safer areas in the western part of the country. The problem, of course, pertains to workers who have died or lost their loved ones and even those who have still not recovered from the shocks.
We have received help from Turkish people, companies, NGOs, the government and from outside the country too. But the road to recovery is a time-consuming slow process. And it is the biggest problem preventing people from going back to normal working conditions.