Construction of new Bosphorus bridge to begin in May

Construction of new Bosphorus bridge to begin in May

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet
Construction of new Bosphorus bridge to begin in May

The constructon of the third bridge to be built in Istanbul due to high demand in existing bridges will start in May, the head of the construction company, IC İçtaş, has said. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The construction of the third bridge across the Bosphorus in Istanbul is to start by May, as seven Turkish banks have agreed on supplying a total of $2.4 billion for 10 years of funding, İbrahim Çeçen, chairman of the IC İçtaş company that was part of the winning consortium, has announced.

“The project preparations have begun and the loan agreement with seven banks is at the final stage, so we plan to get the approval of the Treasury in April to lay the foundation of the bridge in May,” the chairman said.

The construction of the third bridge was awarded to the Turkish-Italian venture İçtaş-Astaldi construction consortium. They will complete the construction of the bridge in 36 months at a total cost of about $4.5 billion. The bridge should be ready for use by the end of 2015, Turkish Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım has said.

By setting a precise date and sharing the details of project proceedings, Çeçen cleared the worries aroused after no loan agreements with banks were reported to the public since the tender was established nor were there any signs of construction beginning.

The consortium has reached and tentative agreement with seven Turkish banks on $2.4 billion of financing and currently the lawyers of each party are working on forming a contract that fits the legislation, the chairman said.

As soon as the contract with the banks is readied, the Treasury’s approval, which he expects to be within April, will be awaited.

“This bridge will be a millennium engineering masterpiece,” Çeçen said, without giving any further information about the project as it will be presented by the Prime Minister. He said all aspects of the project are ready and only hinted that the legs of the bridge will look like the letter “A.” Drilling on the construction of the bridge is ongoing, he added.

İçtaş İnşaat-Astaldi won the bid, proposing plans to complete the project in the shortest period of time – 10 years, two months and 20 days – while its only final challenger, the Cengiz İnşaat-Kolin İnşaat-Limak-Makyol İnşaat-Kalyon İnşaat Consortium, submitted a much longer timeframe of 14 years, nine months and 19 days. The large time gap between the two proposals – four years and seven months – was seen as controversial.

Interest in third airport

In cooperation with German airport operator Fraport, Çeçen’s company, IC İçtaş, also eyes the other gigantic Turkish project in the works: construction of a third airport in Istanbul.

The two companies have gathered information about the details of the project and the tender to be held in May, according to Financal Times reports referring to two people present at the German and Turkish businesspeople’s meeting with the Turkish economy minister and German Chancellor.

“We’re looking at tender documents but we look at many tender documents. As a matter of principle we do not comment on which privatizations we might plan to participate in,” the Financial Times reported Fraport as saying.

Fraport operates 13 airports worldwide including Frankfurt Airport in Germany and Antalya Airport in Turkey, which it has operated with IC İçtaş since 2007. The consortium won the operational rights of the airport until 2024 for $3.2 billion.

The tender for the third airport to be built in Istanbul has received applications from 16 firms thus far.

The third airport’s passenger capacity is planned to gradually reach 150 million passengers and the first phase in its construction is set to be completed by 2017.