Istanbul mayor criticizes timing of Kanal Istanbul tender
Turkey held its first tender on March 26 for Kanal Istanbul, a mega-infrastructure project involving the construction of a 45-kilometer shipping canal in Istanbul parallel to the Bosphorus Strait.
Five companies bid for the planning of the reconstruction of the historic Odabaşı and Dursunköy bridges.
“I can’t even give a name to those attempting to create a Kanal Istanbul from the coronavirus crisis,” İmamoğlu said.
The mayor also said that funds amounting to 8 billion Turkish Liras have been reserved for road construction tenders from the 2020 budget.
“Today, there are millions of people who are on the verge of losing their jobs or their incomes because their workplaces have been shut down,” he said.
İmamoğlu said spending resources on the canal while Turkey combats the coronavirus outbreak was “mind boggling,” adding that 50,000 families had applied to the Istanbul municipality for support due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Why are we not using our resources for our public, rather than spending them on projects like Kanal Istanbul?” he added.
The main opposition Republican People Party’s (CHP) deputy chair in charge of monitoring nature’s rights, Gülizar Biçer Karaca, also slammed the tender, accusing the government of “rent-seeking.”
“While every night we are waiting for good news about the coronavirus outbreak, some are following these rents,” he said.
Responding to İmamoğlu’s remarks, the Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry said in a statement the tender was previously scheduled and did not hinder the government’s efforts to contain the outbreak.
The ministry said the mayor’s “political opportunism” was more damaging to the battle against coronavirus, adding that calling for a halt in production and investments at such a time was wrong.
“Turkey is strong enough to carry out production and investments while putting a fight against the outbreak,” the statement read.
Kanal Istanbul will connect the Black Sea north of Istanbul with the Marmara Sea to the south and is estimated to cost 75 billion Turkish Liras ($11.6 billion). The government says it will ease shipping traffic in the Bosphorus Strait and prevent accidents there.