The Megaproject Istanbul Canal has been in the limelight for some controversial reasons. Despite low public support, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan laid the first stone of the Sazlidere bridge, one of six viaducts that will cross the Istanbul Canal, on Saturday, he began what he calls his “crazy project,” the construction of a canal connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized the historical significance of his massive project during a ceremony on the Sazlidere construction site.
The Turkish president fired out a series of figures to emphasize his point: Six bridges; 45 kilometers in length; 21 meters in depth; 30 times safer than the Bosphorus; 90% less traffic; six years of development; $15 billion budget…
He is optimistic that the Istanbul Canal will enable his country to play a larger role in international trade and host a greater volume of maritime traffic.
The president promises that these projects will be a source of pride for the Turkish people, a new wonder that will draw the envy of the globe, and that they will be the diamond in the crown of a lengthy list of mega-projects inaugurated since he came to power 19 years ago.
It’s one of the reasons why Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, a member of the center-right opposition CHP, opposes the project: The European side of the economic capital, where the upcoming canal will be built, provides 40% of the city’s water.
Second, the new canal is expected to disrupt the natural balance of currents and counter-currents between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, which might be much more destabilizing for the environment.
According to some experts, the manmade canal will serve as a siphon, sucking in polluting Black Sea waters that will eventually end up in the Mediterranean.
He believes that by opening up the Bosphorus, the new marine route will benefit the ecosystem of the Sea of Marmara, which has recently seen an alarming increase of “sea-snot.”
They worry that by building an artificial channel, the Sea of Marmara would become even more polluted.
It’s a project that was financed similarly to the Istanbul Canal, and it’s far from complete.
The government had initiated the project with the assurance that the business operating the bridge would receive a specific amount of toll payments, based on encouraging research.
The specified number of passages is based on promising research.
According to a survey commissioned by the ministry of transport and infrastructure, 54,900 ships will pass through the new canal in 2026, climbing to 68,000 in 2039, reversing present trends.
However, some analysts believe that, rather than increasing, the number of passages will continue to decline.
Furthermore, unlike the new canal, the journey through the Bosphorus will continue free of charge, despite the dangers and long lineups.
Erdogan may say that his project “would not cost the taxpayer a penny” and “will pay for itself,” but a poll conducted in April found that more than 60% of respondents opposed the clause guaranteeing a set number of passages.
Faced with public opposition and Turkish banks claiming they are unwilling to accept the risk, Erdogan has gone so far as to defend international banks eager to fund his scheme.
Russia, in particular, is skeptical of the Istanbul Canal’s merits, fearing that it will provide NATO ships with a more direct path to the Black Sea.
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