Government to pay for bridge over Bosphorus

Government to pay for bridge over Bosphorus

Government to pay for bridge over Bosphorus

A cargo ship passes under the Fatih Sultan Mehmet, one of the two bridges over Istanbu’s Bosphorus. A giant canal project by the government aims at decreasing the number of cargo ships passing through Istanbul’s strait. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

The Northern Marmara Highway Project, which includes construction of a third bridge over Istanbul’s Bosphorus, will be developed with local resources, said Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım, adding that the ministry will go out to tender again soon.

“The bridge and a 65 to 70-km-long highway will be included in the first tender. Then the remaining highways will be put to tender later on,” he said yesterday during a TV program.

The mega transportation project, which spans 414 km from Adapazarı to Tekirdağ, failed to attract any bids from a total of nine Turkish and nine foreign companies Jan. 10.

Just before it appeared that no bids were made that day Yıldırım had signaled to go with an alternate plan. “If no companies bid for the third bridge, we will launch our plan B,” Yıldırım had said.

The project, described as Turkey’s second-biggest build-operate-transfer scheme, was decided to be put to tender March 9 last year.

Some bidders had asked for a three month or six month delay, said the minister. “We did not think it was reasonable and decided not to extend the time [to hold bidding],” he said, adding that “We will finance it from the national project.” The build-operate-transfer scheme was tried, Yıldırım said.

“We will put the project to tender very soon. We plan to work with local resources. It takes a long time to get credit financing warranty in build-operate-transfer schemes. … We are revising the project. We will do it in stages.”

The project will begin in 2012, the minister said. It is not a project that only Turkey needs, but it is a transit route that will connect Europe to Caucasus, the Middle East and Far East, he said.

“It will contribute to inner city traffic of Istanbul, but there will not be many connections to the city center.”

‘Foreign partner needed’

“A single Turkish firm will not be enough [to handle the entire project] due to its vastness,” Yıldırım said. They [Turkish firms] will form groups. Maybe even then that may not be enough. They may have to include a foreign firm as a solution partner.”

When compared to İzmit Bridge, which will be the second longest bridge in the world, the third bridge is merely half the İzmit Bridge in length, so it should not be exaggerated, he said.

“This is an important development for Japanese firms,” said Yasuhiro Fukuda, trade attaché from Japanese Embassy in Ankara, speaking to Hürriyet Daily News about the transport minister’s “Plan B” statement in a phone interview yesterday.

“Japanese companies [Mitsubishi, IHI, Obayashi and Itochu] will definitely take part in the new tender,” said Fukuda, noting that the Japanese Embassy has called Japanese companies for a meeting for Istanbul’s third bridge project Jan.15.

“The meeting with the Japanese firms will be on Wednesday and we will discuss the project. So far all the firms are interested in joining the project,” the Japanese diplomat said.