Baku, Istanbul will be linked by train at end of 2016: Minister
Deniz Zeyrek - ANKARA
AA photoBy the end of 2016 Baku and Istanbul will be linked by a train line, Transportation, Maritime and Communication Minister Ahmet Arslan has vowed.
“Our goal is to finish the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad project by the end of this year. This project and the Marmaray [linking the two sides of Istanbul] has a big importance to our country. This project will be our primary focus,” Arslan told daily Hürriyet in an interview on June 9, underlining that Turkey’s railroad transportation capacity will be doubled with the completion of ongoing projects.
“If we finish it, hopefully railroad transportation will increase to 50 million tons annually. Currently it is around 27-28 million tons. That means it will increase twofold,” he added.
Arslan was appointed as the transport minister after his predecessor Binali Yıldırım was elected as the new leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and therefore as the new prime minister.
Renewing roads in the southeast
In his first interview, Arslan said one of the first issues his ministry will deal with will be undertaking road construction in six cities in southeastern Anatolia, where military operations have been ongoing against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), causing severe and widespread destruction.
Arslan said roads where the PKK has dug trenches and set up barricades will be re-constructed by the ministry, rather than local municipalities run by the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
“Bidding for the roads to be reconstructed with asphalt [with the help of the General Directorate of Highway] in the districts where trenches were dug and operations were staged has been completed and the work has begun. The work on Şırnak’s bidding is continuing,” he added.
Arslan stated that in total there are around 200 km of roads to be reconstructed, including in clash-hit districts such as Sur, Nusaybin, İdil, Cizre, Silopi, followed by Şırnak province.
‘Channel Istanbul’ project to commence
Vowing that preparatory work on the “Channel Istanbul” megaproject is ongoing, he said it would formally commence in the 65th government term. The controversial project involves building a Bosphorus-like channel across Istanbul for naval traffic from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea, effectively turning the European side of Istanbul into an island.
“This is a big project and we have to start it in the 65th government term. The work on routing has reached the last phase and we will finalize it. The most important thing is to realize the financial support for these kinds of projects, which are considered to be built using the build-operate form,” Arslan said.