Turkish PTT centers fail to meet the needs of Azaz residents

The Turkish Post and Telegraph Organization "PTT" does not fulfill the needs of the citizens and witnesses daily congestion in the city of Azaz in northern Aleppo countryside - March 15, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Dayan Junpaz)

The Turkish Post and Telegraph Organization "PTT" does not fulfill the needs of the citizens and witnesses daily congestion in the city of Azaz in northern Aleppo countryside - March 15, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Dayan Junpaz)


Azaz – Dayan Junpaz

The problem of congestion continues at the Turkish Post and Telegraph Organization (PTT) in the city of Azaz in northern Aleppo countryside, despite the recent opening of another center near the al-Qalaa roundabout east of the city.

It has become common to see hundreds of people gathering daily in front of the PTT center to receive their salaries, amid the center’s inability to cope with the pressure and to organize the affairs of the queued citizens.

The PTT branches provide basic banking services, including the delivery of employee salaries. Employees from various sectors, such as education, police, local administration, medicine, and advocacy, receive banking cards to withdraw their salaries and open personal bank accounts. Citizens can deposit their funds in these accounts or withdraw the deposited amounts at any time, whether in Turkish lira or dollars.

These centers also offer the service of receiving and delivering external remittances to and from all countries of the world to meet the needs of residents in local areas controlled by military factions supported by Turkey in northern Syria.

Second center does not meet the need

The second branch, which opened on January 3rd in the region, has one ATM and provides services for opening new accounts and delivering cards through its employees, according to testimonies obtained by Enab Baladi.

Mohammed Redwan, a student at the Free Aleppo University, told Enab Baladi that he tried for two days to open an account at the new center but to no avail, due to the continuous malfunctions in the equipment used, and slow internet.

Redwan added that the place is not suitable for long waits, whether it is cold in winter or hot in summer, pointing out that the situation worsens due to the poor treatment by the police elements (guards) towards the people.

On the other hand, Mohammed Serjawi, a teacher at the Badr al-Kubra school in Azaz, told Enab Baladi that the opening of the second center did not reduce congestion and delay problems, due to its distant location and the difficulty of accessing it.

Serjawi added that the number of machines available to carry out transactions is very few in both centers, with two available in the main center and one in the new center, causing long waits for the citizens.

Amounts not over 5000 Turkish lira, Waiting for days

PTT centers in northern Syria, especially in the city of Azaz, have been experiencing congestion for about three years, as all external remittances for organizations, employee salaries, and sponsorships are transferred to these centers.

In addition to the congestion, people are not given amounts more than 5000 Turkish lira (the dollar is equivalent to 32 Turkish lira), which creates another congestion crisis, as most of the workers in organizations and associations and even some remittances exceed $200 (and therefore cannot be delivered to the person all at once on the same day).

Ali Amin, an employee at Sefir charity organization, tried over the past ten days to obtain amounts through the main PTT center in Azaz, and he would stand in line each time after registering for a turn to be paid, but he does not receive the full amount and is forced to return another day.

The reason for this is due to the amounts he receives, as they are relatively large because of the organization’s activity, but after registering for a new turn, the chances of getting the amounts vary.

Amin told Enab Baladi that the queuing and lining up in front of the center lack organization and oversight, while there are “connections” for some individuals.

After several attempts, he went to a center in the city of Jindires, noting that the congestion does not disappear from the scene there either, as it is close to the Idlib areas, but the organizational process there is better, with people adhering to their turn and clarity in the procedures.

For her part, Aminah al-Sheikh, an employee at the al-Amal hospital in Azaz city, said that the waiting time lasts at least two hours to receive the salary, adding that when she manages to reach the machines, the withdrawal is limited to a maximum amount of 5000 Turkish lira per day.

She mentioned that individuals who receive salaries worth 400 or 500 dollars find themselves obliged to visit PTT centers three or four times on different days to receive their full salaries.

She pointed out that individuals can get their salaries in full, without using the machines, but this requires additional effort and time due to the difficulty of reaching the employees inside the PTT and waiting for long periods.

Enab Baladi attempted to contact the PTT officials on the Syrian side for clarifications about the reasons for the congestion and the center’s operating mechanism and the algorithm for granting funds, but did not receive a response until the moment this report was prepared.

“Exploitation and connections”

From her experience, Aminah al-Sheikh explained that she, like others, resorts to solutions to overcome the waiting obstacles and facilitate the process of receiving salaries.

She said that sometimes she seeks help from one of the police officers inside the center to facilitate her access to the machine or to the employees inside the center, in order to be able to receive the salary without waiting in exchange for an amount ranging between 200 and 500 Turkish lira.

One of the guard elements at the PTT center (who preferred not to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media), told Enab Baladi that the congestion and the lack of organization are due to manipulation by Syrian employees and the officers responsible for the centers, as they exploit this situation to facilitate procedures for some individuals and people working in organizations in exchange for bribes.

According to testimony obtained by Enab Baladi, the police sometimes select some of the waiting people to unload vehicles carrying parcels to the PTT center, and after they finish, they are allowed to withdraw their money without waiting for their turn “as a reward for them”.

PTT centers are concentrated in several towns and cities under the control of the Syrian National Army, supported by Turkey, including Azaz, Afrin, Jindires, Mare, al-Rai, al-Bab, Jarablus, Qabasin, Baza’a, Tal Abyad, and Ras al-Ain, while Idlib province lacks any center, forcing many residents to travel to the Aleppo countryside regularly to carry out their financial transactions.

There have been repeated assaults by police officers in some of the postal centers either on citizens or journalists during their media coverage, including an attack by elements of the Civil Police in Azaz on journalists and media staff, preventing them from media coverage of the congestion problem in front of the PTT center, as happened with the team of Halab Today TV, on June 23, 2023.

At that time, the head of the Syrian Media Union, Jalal al-Talawi, told Enab Baladi that the incident was not only with the Halab Today TV directly, but with more than one media outlet that was covering the congestion problem.

Such incidents end with promises from the police to hold the assaulting elements accountable.


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