Kanal Istanbul will protect Bosphorus from accidents, minister says
Kanal İstanbul, a mega-infrastructure project involving the construction of a 45-kilometer shipping canal in Istanbul parallel to the Bosphorus, is a necessity for the future of the country’s biggest metropolis, according to Turkey’s transport and infrastructure minister.
“Kanal Istanbul is not only the project of today but also of the future. Kanal Istanbul is the project to protect the Bosphorus from accidents,” Cahit Turhan told an Anadolu Agency reporter.
“The Kanal Istanbul project has a great importance for our country and citizens of Istanbul. With many projects implemented for the city, we aim to protect Istanbul from possible dangers as well as to reach to a cleaner Istanbul [target],” Turhan said.
Turhan pointed out that there is average traffic of 40,000-42,000 ships in the Bosphorus, which currently has a capacity of 25,000 ships.
The minister also stressed that the ships that pass through the Bosphorus have to wait for almost a week, and to ensure safety, the ships are also guided by guard ship and tandem trailer.
Minister Turhan recounted that some ship accidents occurred in the Bosphorus in recent decades, especially the burning of the Independenta and collision of the Nassia and Shipbroker tanker ships.
In 1979, a Romanian tanker - Independenta - collided with the Greek cargo ship Evriali, off the Haydarpaşa entrance to the Bosphorus. About 93,800 tons of oil in the tanker spilled and caught fire. The tanker burnt for four weeks and painted the Kadıkoy shoreline black.
“That is why we are worried about the high maritime traffic that is currently occurring. The consequences of any accident resulting from this high maritime traffic may be unbearable,” Turhan said.
“It is even stated that the possible accident between the two tankers in the straits could destroy dozens of fish species in the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea. For this reason, the construction of the project has become a necessity for the future of the Bosphorus,” he added.
'A civilization project'
Minister Turhan stated that the amount of dangerous cargo passing through the Bosphorus, especially oil, exceeded 150 million tons, and that the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea were the main parts of the global oil trade.
“With Kanal Istanbul, we will not only reduce the ship traffic load of the Bosphorus but also minimize the risks that may occur due to ships carrying dangerous goods in the Bosphorus,” he said.
“We will also provide an alternative for ships and tankers wishing to pass through the strait without waiting. Ships carrying international cargo will be able to use Kanal Istanbul for a fee. They will also get rid of the financial burdens that may occur due to waiting for a week” he added.
The minister drew attention to the increase in the number of ships using the straits due to the shift of world trade to the east. He also stressed that the number of ships that will use the Bosphorus in 20 years is expected to reach 70,000.
Turhan said that the work on the Kanal Istanbul Project is at the final stage.
He added that a cooperation protocol was signed between the ministries and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) to determine and fulfill the tasks related to the project.
The Kanal İstanbul Project needs around $20 billion in total financing, but the first phase requires around $5 billion, Turhan told Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on Nov. 18.